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More homes evacuated in Canyon Creek Complex

About 22 homes have been evacuated on Upper Pine Creek and Upper Dog Creek south of John Day as the Canyon Creek Complex continues to burn.

By GEORGE PLAVEN

East Oregonian

Published on August 24, 2015 10:55AM


Another 22 homes have been evacuated south of John Day as the Canyon Creek Complex marches up the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness and back toward residential areas.

The Grant County Sheriff’s Office ordered immediate evacuations for Upper Pine Creek and Upper Dog Creek as a previously inactive portion of the fire re-flared amid shifting winds.

Winds shifted over the weekend out of the southwest, pushing the blaze back northeast where firefighters had already established fire line and structure protection. Tobin Kelley, fire behavior analyst, said he expected the flames to bowl back into previously burned sections of forest, working in crews’ favor.

Instead, the fire maneuvered around a stretch of Rocky Ridge into the Norton Fork drainage, where it made a significant run Sunday night. Nearby homes were evacuated at about 8 p.m., and a red flag warning remains in effect through Monday night with wind gusts at approximately 20 mph.

Fire information officer Stefanie Gatchell said firefighters will be moved off other parts of the fire to assist with protecting houses. For now, the fire remains in the wilderness area, she said, and no new buildings have been damaged.

“Firefighter and public safety is the number one priority,” Gatchell said. “There was an urgency to get those people out just in case.”

The Canyon Creek Complex has already destroyed 39 houses and damaged more than 50 other structures. There are 665 personnel still working on the fire, as some crews have been sent home or reassigned to other higher priority fires. To date, the blaze has charred 73,210 acres and is 29 percent contained.

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Contact George Plaven at gplaven@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0825.



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