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Oregon fire quadruples in size; governor declares emergency

A wildfire in remote southwest Oregon almost quadrupled in size overnight Saturday, forcing evacuations and prompting the governor to invoke an emergency act that allows the state fire marshal to take command of suppression efforts.

The Rum Creek Fire, which had covered around 1,200 acres (485 hectares) on Friday, increased to 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares) in size, Gov. Kate Brown’s office said Saturday.

Authorities also ordered evacuations as a wildfire grew in rugged terrain in western Idaho. The Valley County Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook Saturday that evacuation preparedness for some neighborhoods in the rural area “have been changed to a “GO” status and we are initiating an immediate evacuation of the area.”

Planes were scooping water from nearby Lake Cascade and dumping it on the fire, which had grown to 10,000 acres (4,046 hectares). Boaters were warned to stay clear of the path of the aircraft.

In Oregon, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations of several unincorporated communities along the Rogue River, which is popular among rafters. Sections of the river were closed to recreation by federal officials because of the fire.

“The Rum Creek Fire grew rapidly overnight, requiring additional resources to battle the fire and support the state’s response,” Brown said in a statement. “This is a good reminder that conditions can change quickly, and that fire knows no bounds.”

Brown’s declaration cleared the way for the State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local firefighters and to support a coordinated response.

The unincorporated community of Galice was among those ordered evacuated. The county fairgrounds in Grants Pass has been designated as an evacuation shelter, with space for people, their pets and livestock.

The fire was started by lightning on Aug. 17 and killed Logan Taylor, a 25-year-old firefighter, after he was struck by a tree the next day. Brown has ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff on Monday in honor of Taylor, with his memorial service to be held the same day.

“He will be remembered for his bravery, courage, and commitment to protecting Oregonians from wildfire,” Brown said.

A wildfire near Spokane, Washington, prompted evacuations Friday but has been brought under control, emergency officials said Saturday.

The fire was held to 41 acres (17 hectares) with no structures burned, the Spokane County Fire District said on Facebook.

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