MEDFORD, Oregon - Thousands of residents across Oregon remain under evacuation orders Wednesday as fast-moving fires burned through at least two towns and the state's governor declared a wildfire emergency.
The U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Region said there are 20 large wildfires burning across Oregon and Washington that have destroyed some 476,027 acres as "extreme fire weather" continues across the region. During a press conference on Tuesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called the weather conditions a "once-in-a-generation event."
"Almost every year since becoming governor, I've witnessed historic fire seasons," Brown told reporters. "Yet this is proving to be an unprecedented and significant fire event for our state."
Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act for three of the largest blazes, the Beachie Creek, Lionshead and Holiday Farm fires, saying they pose a "threat to life, safety, and property" and exceed local firefighting capabilities.
The Beachie Creek and Lionshead Fires burning through Santiam Canyon have scorched more than 200,000 acres. As of late Tuesday, the Lionshead fire was 31% contained, according to Inciweb. The Holiday Farm Fire has grown to 37,000 acres in a day, spurring many evacuations.
Dozens of other wildfires are raging across Oregon, spurring evacuations in many communities. The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Medford shared photos of "multiple wildfires" spotted in the area.
Part of the city of Medford in the southern part of the state is under evacuation orders due to a growing wildfire that's closed a 25-mile portion of Interstate 5.
The blaze is 0% contained and other neighborhoods have been told to be ready to evacuate if needed.
State fire officials said on Tuesday they could not say if anyone has died from the blazes or how many have been hurt, but there have been many successful rescue missions.
A home is engulfed in flames during the "Creek Fire" in the Tollhouse area of unincorporated Fresno County, California early on September 8, 2020.