Nearly 100 homes near Dufur remain evacuated this morning as the South Valley Fire continued to grow overnight. About 150 firefighters from around the state, as well as 150 local personnel, have responded to the rapid growing fire, which grew to more than 15,000 acres since it began Wednesday afternoon. Crews worked overnight to build a fire line, and the fire is reported to be about 5 percent contained as of this morning. Officials said structures have been lost but they do not have an exact number at this time. The Oregon Department of Transportation closed Hwy 197 from milepost 14 to milepost 34 overnight while firefighters worked to control the flames. The highway has been reopened in both directions and ODOT crews will continue to monitor fire activity in the area.Officials say the fire is fueled by ponderosa pine, oak and wheat. Those dry fuels and steady winds over 45 miles per hour have continued push the fire southeast. According to officials, the fire grew about five to seven miles in a four to five hour period due to strong winds. Within hours of the fire breaking out, Governor Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act, which authorizes the state fire marshal’s office to mobilize resources to assist firefighting efforts. The fire marshal’s office says that they are investigating the fire as human-caused.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled that the sale of a tract of the Elliott State Forest to a private timber company was illegal. The ruling Wednesday overturns the sale of 788 acres to the Seneca Jones Timber Company and is a victory for environmental groups who had sued to stop it. The Elliot State Forest was intended to be managed to generate money for public education. But logging on the land was curtailed by environmental lawsuits. The state backed away last year from a plan to sell the forest to timber interests. Instead, the Oregon Legislature allocated $100 million in bond revenue last year to help keep the forest public.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Lawmakers from Oregon say state legislators from across the nation are urging Congress to legalize marijuana. In a joint statement, they said a directive they crafted was approved Wednesday by the National Conference of State Legislators at its annual meeting in Los Angeles. It calls on Congress to help legal cannabis businesses access banking services. Oregon Senate Republican Leader Jackie Winters said the cannabis industry is making big contributions to her state’s economy, and giving it access to secure banking is critical to their success. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so financial institutions are reluctant to provide it with banking services. Oregon Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick, a Portland Democrat, said operating as a cash-only business invites crime. This policy directive will help guide NCSL’s advocacy efforts in Washington.
In a clash of protected species, Pacific Northwest members of Congress are coming down in favor of salmon. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee is scheduled to vote today make it easier to kill sea lions who feast on Columbia and Willamette River salmon and steelhead.