(Update: Major firefighter call-out slow spread of fire)
HARRISBURG, Ore. (KTVZ) – A fast-growing wildfire that broke out Friday afternoon north of Eugene covered about 200 acres by nightfall, threatening and prompting evacuations of dozens of homes in the area, but officials said a major call-out of firefighters helped slow it down.
The Priceboro Fire was reported around 3:15 p.m. on Priceboro Drive, east of Harrisburg, about eight miles northeast of Eugene, and led to Level 3 (GO NOW) evacuations of about 60 homes by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff’s office and Oregon Department of Forestry reported. Nearby areas were at Level 2 (GET READY) evacuation alerts.
The fire was visible from I-5, but the highway remained open.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal mobilized two task forces to help battle the fire, which had not reached any homes at last report. The sheriff’s office said the cause of the fire was unknown.
Firefighters from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s South Cascade District, two task forces from the Oregon State Fire Marshal, local districts, and private contractors significantly slowed the fire, officials said later Friday night.
ODF crews provided a strong initial attack through Friday evening, with seven aircraft, 14 engines, two hand crews, four tenders and three dozers. Overnight, crews will continue to place dozer and handline around the fire to try and keep it within its current footprint. Additional resources were ordered and will join firefighting efforts tomorrow morning.
“Because of these unseasonably dry conditions and strong winds, we had some incredible fire behavior out there,” said ODF District Forester Chris Cline. “Our crews provided a strong initial attack, and we dropped a lot of water and retardant on the fire to slow the rate of spread. The fire is currently holding around 200 acres, and we feel confident we can hold it there. We intend to grab the fire tonight and hope to start securing the edges heading into Saturday.”
“It’s really hot and dry out there,” Cline said. “With these near-extreme conditions, we need the public’s help to keep fire off the landscape. The vegetation is very receptive to fire, so we’re asking the public to be mindful and do their part.”