Evacuations issued after Graham Fire erupt

Kevin Byrne # weather

Lightning and persistent dry weather have teamed up to produce dozens of wildfires in Oregon and northwestern Canada.

The Graham Fire in central Oregon ignited on Thursday, June 21, near Culver, Oregon. The blaze has burned about 2,000 acres on private land protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue.

The blaze has prompted evacuations and forced Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to invoke the Conflagration Act.

The declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire,” the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office said.

“Numerous homes are threatened in the Three Rivers Subdivision and evacuations are in place,”
officials said.
“Extreme fire behavior has included running and torching in brush, grass, and timber.”

Lightning has not been determined as the official cause of the Graham Fire. The cause of the blaze is under investigation.

Through Saturday, the area will see favorable weather for fire containment efforts with winds remaining relatively light and daytime highs and overnight lows only slightly above normal, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

"On Sunday, however, warm air will surge into the region on a southerly breeze with temperatures soaring to well above-normal levels,"
Duffey said.

While winds will not increase, the high heat levels will encourage dangerous fire activity and allow for the greater likelihood that burning material can start spot fires such as when burning embers land away from the main fire area, Duffey added.

Elsewhere in the state, the Boxcar Fire, burning along the Deschutes River near the city of Maupin, exploded in size from 2,000 acres to 7,000 acres on Thursday. A type 2 federal team of firefighters was ordered to begin managing the blaze on Friday.

As of Friday evening, the fire was estimated at around 23,000 acres, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.

The fire, which is moving east and west of Highway 197, has caused the road to be closed at times.

"The fire is expected to continue to grow due to winds and the light brushy fuels in the area,"
officials said.

On Wednesday, alone, firefighters across Oregon were responding to 16 separate incidents following 500 lightning strikes.

Lightning also sparked numerous wildfires in British Columbia, Canada.

Over 100 wildfires have been sparked since Wednesday in the Canadian province, according to the CBC. Many forests in the area have turned dry following days of hot weather.

A fire official told the CBC that most of the new fires that have ignited aren’t of “significant concern.” The largest blaze is reported be around 91 hectares (22 acres) in size.