OR fire edges rural town

BY SUSAN KIM | THE DALLES, OR | July 29, 2002

A 12,000-acre wildfire near The Dallas, a Columbia River port town, burned to within inches of some rural buildings before firefighters could beat it back, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. By Monday morning crews had the fire 55 percent contained.

Some 250 residents were told to evacuate as the fire crept within two miles of town.

Stiff winds were still posing what the Oregon Department of Forestry called “serious control problems.”

The Salvation Army and other relief groups were helping to meet the needs of evacuees. The Humane Association of the United States was monitoring the situation closely and was prepared to deploy specially trained disaster response teams to help stranded animals.

According to fire information officers, local churches were also opening their doors and offering shelter to evacuees.

As the fire continued to push toward some area power lines, the power might have to be switched off because dense smoke poses the threat to firefighters of short circuits between the wires and the ground.

Two firefighters died this week battling another Oregon blaze in the Klamath National Forest when their fire truck tumbled into a ravine. Twelve firefighters altogether have died fighting western fires this year.

Meanwhile, California’s sequoia trees were safer as firefighters were able to get a better handle on the blaze in the Sequoia National Forest. Residents from the nearby areas of Ponderosa and Johnsondale were still not back into their homes Monday.

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