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C.O. structure protection task force called to White River Fire amid evacuations

C.O. task force White River Fire
Bend Fire & Rescue
Central Oregon structure protection task force assembles Friday before heading to White River Fire on Mt. Hood National Forest.
White River Fire Pine Grove InciWeb 827
White River Fire as seen from Pine Grove in late August of 2020
White River Fire 826
Firefighters on White River Fire along Road 48

Central Oregon sends structural protection task force to assist

(Update: Details on task force)

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Gov. Kate Brown on Friday approved an emergency conflagration declaration for the White River Fire in Wasco County, threatening the community of Pine Grove, and three structural protection task forces, including one from Central Oregon, were called in to assist.

At the time of the declaration Friday, 108 homes were under Level 3 mandatory evacuation orders, with an additional 192 homes under levels 2 and 1 pre-evacuation notices.

The 12-member Central Oregon task force, which left for the fire Friday afternoon, includes five apparatus from the Bend, Redmond, Redmond, Sunriver and Alfalfa fire departments. The task force is being led by Black Butte Ranch Deputy Fire Chief Dave Phillips.

"This month, firefighting resources have been stretched to deal with 11 large wildfires," Brown said.

"I am asking all Oregonians to remain vigilant with any activity that could spark a wildfire. We all need to do our part to help the many firefighters who are on the front lines by preventing human-caused wildfires during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are heading outdoors this weekend, please follow all fire restrictions.”

In accordance with ORS 476.510 - 476.610, Governor Brown approved the declaration at 6:20 a.m. Friday, having determined that a threat to a life, safety, and property exists due to fire, and the threat exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local firefighting personnel and equipment.

The governor's declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal to mobilize resources to assist local resources battling the fire. 

The 10-day-old, lightning-sparked wildfire on the Mt. Hood National Forest grew dramatically to 4,500 acres on Thursday, prompting Level 3 "Go Now" evacuation orders for nearby residents Thursday afternoon, officials said.

The White River Fire, 13 miles southeast of Government Camp in Wasco County, has more than 600 firefighters battling it, and as of Friday was just 10 percent contained.

The Level 3 order to evacuate covered the area east from Bear Springs Ranger Station along state Highway 216 through Pine Grove to the intersection of Endersby Road and 216. It also included all of Endersby, Linns Mill and Kelly Springs Road.

Earlier this week, a firefighting helicopter pilot, Thomas Duffy, 40, of Bozeman, Montana, was killed in a crash while conducting water bucket drops on the blaze.

News release from the Oregon State Fire Marshal:

Gov. Kate Brown this morning has declared the White River Fire a Conflagration. The White River Fire is active near the community of Pine Grove, in Wasco County. It has burned 4,500 acres as of this morning and is 10 percent contained.

The declaration made by Gov. Brown cleared the way for the State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire.

The Office of State Marshal’s Red Incident Management Team has been mobilized. Three structural task forces from Central Oregon and Clackamas and Washington counties, and personnel from the OSFM, are arriving this morning and early this afternoon at staggered intervals using COVID-19 mitigation measures at the staging area in Tygh Valley. Crews will be working to protect threatened structures and property.

The Red Team’s Incident Commander Ian Yocum will unify command with the interagency team currently in place.

Additional updates for the incident may be accessed at:

• Oregon State Fire Marshal Facebook:

• Wasco County Sheriff’s Office Facebook:

• Mt. Hood National Forest Facebook:

Article Topic Follows: Fire

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