Hundreds of residents near a western Oregon wildfire have heard some good news: Fire crews are making progress against the fire southeast of Estacada, and it is 7 percent contained.
More than 500 people turned out Tuesday night for an information briefing at a church in Estacada, the Clackamas County sheriff’s office estimated.
The 36 Pit Fire has burned across about 5 1/2 square miles, or nearly 3,600 acres. So far, no structures have been lost, fire officials told the public meeting, The Oregonian reported.
The fire is burning through grass and timber, mainly within the Mount Hood National Forest about 10 miles from Estacada, a town of about 2,900. The town is not considered threatened.
About 40 homes are under evacuation orders, and residents of about 120 more have been told to be ready to leave if necessary.
Authorities said they suspect a target shooter in a gravel pit set it off on Saturday.
Heavy smoke from the fire has stretched into the Willamette Valley and as far as Salem, causing concerns for people with respiratory problems.
More than 800 people are fighting the fire. Gov. John Kitzhaber authorized the state fire marshal to send in local fire departments to protect buildings.
Firefighters were also battling a wildfire in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest about 15 miles west of Grants Pass. That blaze grew by 1,000 acres to nearly 3,000 acres. Several campgrounds and forest roads have been closed, and area residences have been put on alert for possible evacuations.
Officials said that fire, which also started Saturday, is human caused, but they did not provide any further details.
About 300 homes are threatened by the fire, and more than 300 firefighters are on hand.
Officials say cooler weather and a chance of rain should help with the firefighting in Oregon.
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