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Oregon's largest wildfire flares up, prompting new evacuations

by by Jim Ryan, The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) |

Oregon's largest wildfire has flared up, prompting new evacuations and a declaration from the governor.

Gov. Kate Brown on Monday declared the Klondike Fire, which started three months ago in southern Oregon, a conflagration. That clears the way for the state fire marshal's office to send firefighters and equipment to help with the blaze, which covers more than 167,000 acres.

About 40 homes are under level three ("go") evacuations as of Monday morning, according to fire spokesman Kale Casey. There haven't been any injuries, he said.

Casey said the flare-up occurred Sunday amid 20- to 30-mph sustained winds and extremely dry conditions. Winds picked up embers from within the Klondike Fire perimeter and carried them as far as six miles away, Casey said.

Once established on the ground, wind whipped the embers into an estimated 2,000-acre flare-up, which is a collection of smaller blazes trying to grow together, Casey said.

The blaze, which is south of the Curry County community of Agness, remains active.

Fire marshal's office personnel are rolling in Monday to protect homes and other buildings, Casey said. Authorities will for the next couple days focus on structure protection, establishing new fire lines and making sure the fire doesn't spread anywhere else.

A local forecast shows highs in the 70s through Saturday, and there's no sign of rain.

The Klondike Fire, which started July 15 from a lightning strike, was listed Sunday morning as 167,423 acres. It was, at that point, 72 percent contained.