THE DALLES, Ore. – More than 700 firefighters were fighting the Government Flats Fire Complex near The Dalles Tuesday afternoon. 6700 acres were burning, sending thick smoke into The Dalles.
Residents of approximately 50 homes near the Government Flats Fire Complex near The Dalles have been ordered to leave after the Wasco County Sheriff's Office issued a Level III Evacuation.
The fires destroyed two homes and five other buildings. It was burning just seven miles southwest of The Dalles and was only ten percent contained Tuesday.
Fire was moving toward The Dalles water treatment plant and thick smoke covered much of the town.
Larry McCollum manages the water treatment plant. He was ordered to evacuate his home.
"I have a few pictures of my four grandkids," he said as he packed his car Monday. "Other than that, I don't have a lot of stuff packed up."
The evacuation area included 9595 Upper Mill Creek Road east to 6522 Mill Creek Road. Residents on Obrist Road, west of Dutch Flat Road, were also evacuated, as was Mill Creek Road and Reservoir Road.
An American Red Cross shelter was set up for displaced people at Dry Hollow Elementary School at 1314 E. 19th St. in The Dalles. The Home at Last Humane Society at 200 River Road in The Dalles was also offering to shelter displaced animals, including large farm animals.
The fire was started by lightning Friday and was already burning some structures Sunday evening.
On Sunday, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared the Government Flat Complex Fire a conflagration.
The complex is made up of three fires. The 700-acre Blackburn Fire is burning within the city of The Dalles’ watershed, which has steep terrain with limited access to firefighters. The Government Flat Fire and the Wells Fire are lined, and officials said the risk of them spreading is low.
Strong winds Saturday caused the fires to spread across dry grass, and brush.
Eleven 20-person crews headed out to battle the fire early Sunday morning and at least 500 firefighters headed out Monday.