High alert: Deadly Northwest fires burn hundreds of homes

A steady stream of vehicles heads west on a road east of Springfield, Ore., as residents evacuate the area ahead of a fast-moving wildfire Sept. 8.

High temperatures and powerful winds continued to fuel dozens of wildfires across Oregon on Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been scorched and thousands of Oregonians have fled their homes.

New fires popped up statewide Tuesday and winds fanned existing fires.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a statewide emergency at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

Doug Grafe of the Oregon Department of Forestry said fire crews so far have been focused primarily on evacuating people rather than putting out fires — prioritizing human life. Grafe said crews will take a more offensive position against the fires Wednesday afternoon or Thursday as weather improves and more people are moved to safe zones.

"Thursday is really our turning point to go on the offensive, if you will," said Grafe.

National weather reports show wind conditions will likely improve Wednesday afternoon.

Here's a breakdown of the fires.

Santiam (formerly the Beachie Creek) and Lionshead fires: Oregon's largest wildfires are burning in eastern Marion County. The Santiam and Lionshead fires have burned about 200,000 acres. As of Wednesday morning, the Lionshead fire is 5% contained, according to Inciweb. The Santiam fire is still uncontained.

Residents have evacuated from Mehama, Mill City, Gates, Detroit, the North Fork corridor, Scotts Mills and the Crooked Finger area. Residents in Stayton, Sublimity, Aumsville, Silverton, Highway 213 west of Mount Angel and Silverton to Drakes Crossing were ordered to be ready to go.

Holiday Farm Fire: The Holiday Farm Fire in the McKenzie River Valley has burned more than 37,000 acres as of Tuesday night and still shows 0% containment. Officials say they expect more containment Wednesday afternoon through Thursday.

The town of Blue River, public information officers say, is "gone." Vida, Mohawk, McKenzie Bridge, Leaburg and Walterville are under varying levels of evacuation as the fire spreads.

Glendower and Almeda fires: In Jackson and Coos counties, thousands were told to evacuate in the Rogue River Valley.

The Almeda fire, which started near Ashland, prompted officials to evacuate people from the cities of Talent, Phoenix and Medford — home to about 80,000 people.

In a statement Wednesday morning, Phoenix officials said the fire continues to burn with high winds.

Powerline fire: In Washington County, the Powerline fire near Hagg Lake led officials to evacuate residents from Dundee Road, Southwest Patton Valley Road, Southwest Lee Road, Southwest Cascara Road and Cherry Grove.

Another blaze near Newberg started Tuesday evening. About 150 nearby homes in Yamhill and Washington counties were evacuated.

Clackamas County fires: Clackamas Fire District No. 1 Chief Fred Charlton said the county is tracking 10 fires. The four biggest — which continue to grow Wednesday — are the Dowty fire, Riverside fire, Unger fire and Wilhoite fire.

Clackamas County was under multiple evacuation orders Tuesday night. People have also been evacuated from Estacada area, parts of Oregon City and parts of Molalla.

Pike fire: The Pike fire started Monday in Tillamook County. It's still burning, and Wednesday morning, officials moved to Level 3 "GO" evacuation orders for nearby residents.

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