Wildfire scorches 1,700 acres in Central Oregon, prompting emergency evacuations

In some parts of Deschutes County, residents were urged to evacuate immediately to ensure their safety and to allow public safety personnel to effectively assist them. A small wildfire in central Oregon quickly spread Tuesday, scorching about 1,700 hectares at nightfall, causing evacuations and leaving thousands without power.

The fire, dubbed the Darlene 3 Fire, quickly spread to the outskirts of La Pine in Deschutes County, requiring a regional fire marshal. The fire continued to spread Tuesday evening, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch.

The fire brigade arrived on site around 12:45 local time. Initially the fire covered 3 to 5 hectares, but within an hour the size had tripled. By evening the fire had grown to 1,700 hectares was 0% under control shortly after 9 p.m Evacuations were ordered in some areas, while residents of nearby locations were advised to prepare for evacuation. Photos and videos on the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page showed black smoke billowing from behind several properties.

The US Forest Service has closed and evacuated nearby campsites and trails in Deschutes National Forest.

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A shelter for evacuees was set up at La Pine High School, and a facility for livestock and pets was established at the La Pine Rodeo Grounds.

Governor Tina Kotek invoked Oregon’s Emergency Conflagration Act, which allowed the state fire marshal to deploy the full resources of the Oregon Fire Department to protect life and property. Midstate Electric Cooperative warned some customers of a likely public safety shutdown due to the fires.

According to the energy company, more than 2,000 customers were without power.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

The fire’s name, Darlene 3, reflects the area’s history of wildfires. In 2021, the Darlene Fire burned nearly 700 acres and destroyed two homes, as reported by NBC affiliate KTVZ of Bend.

La Pine, a rural town about 30 miles southwest of Bend, has a population of about 2,500. The greater La Pine area has a population of just under 20,000. According to the city’s website, it is Oregon’s “youngest” city, having been incorporated in 2006.