Wind rekindles controlled burns, starts wildfires
PORTLAND — Wind gusts breathed life into controlled burns of logging slash that are typically extinguished by Oregon's wet winter, and more than a dozen fires around the state continued to smolder Saturday.
Dry conditions and strong eastern winds made for unusual January conditions. Slash piles are typically burned in the fall and monitored until they're extinguished by rain.
The Oregon Department of Forestry said Saturday that two fires near its Astoria district burning east of Highway 101 are each about half-contained.
The Falcon fire, which was first spotted on Thursday, is burning on approximately 273 acres about 5 miles southeast of Cannon Beach on private timberland.
The smaller Shingle fire burning on 31 acres was being pushed by winds on Saturday toward Highway 101.
No injuries were reported.
The fires are the largest on the North Coast in recent memory, the Daily Astorian reported (http://bit.ly/1aySLrv ).
Five fires were burning in the Cascades southeast of Salem and three outside Coos Bay, the department said. The biggest was about 200 acres.
In southwestern Oregon, the Alder Creek Fire has burned 125 acres on private timberland 16 miles north of Shady Cove, and another was contained at 8 acres in the Ashland watershed on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
A pair of fires in the Willamette Valley also drew significant attention Saturday.
The Gates Complex fire east of Mill City was burning on about 80 acres, according to an Oregon Department of Forestry news release. Crews brought 11 engines, water tenders and a helicopter provided by a landowner and mopped up hot spots.
Southeast of Silverton, the 1,2,3 Complex fire burned on about 280 acres, and crews worked to establish a perimeter on Saturday.
Milder winds were expected for Sunday.