WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (AP) — A wildfire burning on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Central Oregon destroyed two houses and threatened dozens more.
KTVZ reports the blaze charred more than 30 square miles by late Thursday as it expanded through brush and timber.
Fire spokesman Brad Donahue said one of the places that burned was an occupied home and the other was an abandoned house he described as “historical.”
The fire began Tuesday on private land just north of the reservation. One firefighter suffered a minor injury that day.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though officials believe it was ignited by humans rather than lightning.
On Thursday, large plumes of smoke appeared every 20 minutes or so as the fire torched trees, The Bulletin newspaper reported. Ash sporadically fell from the sky like snow in the 104-degree heat.
Wildfire is a fact of summer life on the reservation and in much of Oregon. But Elizabeth Simtustus, whose house was included in an evacuation notice, said this is more dangerous than the standard Warm Springs blaze.
“The other ones weren’t as close to houses as this has been,” she said.
Despite the threat, she and many residents decided to stay put — at least for now — rather go to an American Red Cross shelter.
“It’s my family home,” she said. “I’m the third generation to live in that house. I was born in that house. I don’t want to see it burned up just like that.”