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Oregon’s wildfire grows to 2,415 acres, prompting an emergency declaration

A wind-driven wildfire that ignited in Central Oregon on Tuesday spread to 2,415 acres overnight and threatened homes as residents were ordered to evacuate, officials said.

The Darlene 3 fire in Deschutes County was 30% contained on Wednesday, according to the Central Oregon Fire Management Service.

The fire started around 2pm PT on Tuesday. Fanned by gusts of wind, the fire quickly spread through a pine forest near homes in La Pine, a small town of about 2,500 residents at the foot of the Cascade Mountains, officials said.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office ordered some residents on the southeast side of La Pine to evacuate. Shelters were opened at a local high school and at the La Pine Rodeo Grounds, officials said.

Lt. Jayson Janes of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office said evacuation warnings have been sent to 1,100 homes and businesses.

It was not immediately clear whether any buildings were damaged or destroyed.

Several campgrounds and hiking trails in the area were also closed, officials said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The sheriff’s office posted photos and video on its Facebook page showing a large plume of smoke rising from a wooded area behind a group of homes and a firefighting air tanker dropping fire retardant on the flames.

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act after determining that the fire posed a threat to life and property and was beyond the resources of local fire departments. The law allows the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment throughout the state to assist local firefighters in fighting the blaze.

Oregon State Fire Marshall Mariana Ruiz-Temple said gusty winds and warm weather caused the fire to spread quickly.

“The Emergency Conflagration Act allows us to send the full force of the Oregon Fire Department to protect life and property,” Ruiz-Temple said in a news release. “As we enter the hot and dry summer months, I am asking Oregonians to do everything they can to prevent wildfires.”

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