Akawana Fire threatening more than 900 homes in Central Oregon

Akawana Fire aerials on June 8, 2016 (Chopper 2 photo) 3.png

SISTERS, Ore. - Residents of Three Rivers subdivision have been notified to be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice as a wildfire sparked by lightning continues to grow.

The Akawana Fire broke out between Camp Sherman and Lake Billy Chinook about 13 miles north of Sisters Tuesday afternoon and had burned through almost 2,000 acres by Wednesday night.

"Within about a day and a half, the fuel type went from heavy timber to sage brush country and the winds got up to 20 mph, with 30 mph gusts, so this was really driven by wind," Erik Pronold with the Oregon Department of Forestry explained.

The fire is threatening about 900 homes in the Three Rivers subdivision near Lake Billy Chinook.

As of 10 p.m. Wednesday, the flames were about a mile-and-a-half from the nearest home, but fire crews are confident homes are safe because the winds had died down.

Gov. Kate Brown invoked the Conflagration Act Wednesday, authorizing the state to mobilize firefighters from elsewhere in the state. Another 400 firefighters are expected to arrive on scene Thursday, the Oregon Department of Forestry said.

A team from Lane County has been put on pre-alert, said Chad Minter, Coburg Fire chief. That means they need to be ready to go by Thursday morning, although Minter said they could be sent to anywhere they are needed.

The fire was sparked by one or more of the thousands of lightning strikes that peppered the region over the past few days.

The Three Rivers subdivision is under a Level 2 evacution, "Set" on the three-tier "Ready, Set, Go!" scale.

The fire is burning on private timberlands near Akawa Butte, the Oregon Department of Forestry said.

The fire was estimated at 5 percent contained as of noon Wednesday, according to forestry officials.

"Heavy dead and down fuel along with 15 to 20 mile per hour winds are causing torching and spotting of the fire," the agency said in a press release. "The winds have been picking up as the day has progressed. Two fire suppression handcrews, three fire engines, and three bulldozers are working aggressively on direct fire line with the aid of a variety of aerial support helicopters and planes."

RELATED | InciWeb page for the Akawana Fire

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