BEND, Ore. – A fast-growing wildfire forced 250 families to evacuate their homes west of Bend on Saturday.
The Two Bulls Wildfire is burning about 6,200 acres in the Saddleback area near the Tumalo Reservoir, fire officials said.
The Deschutes County Sheriff Department evacuated about 250 homes off of Johnson Market Road, but officials said 2,000 more structures are threatened by the blaze.
Officials aren't sure how long it could take to contain the fire. Crews are currently working to protect the homes and structures to the south and east of the blaze. The west flank of the fire is burning close to the Bend watershed in the Deschutes National Forest.
The Two Bulls Wildfire started as two separate fires initially reported at 12:48 Saturday afternoon south of the Tumalo Reservoir. Fueled by wind and dry conditions, the fires quickly grew together and pushed south to the west of Bend.
"The fire has a heavy smoke column, so our air support couldn't get overhead to map it well on Saturday," said Lisa Clark, an information officer for Central Oregon Fire. "Overnight we used a plane equipped with infrared sensors to get the full size of the Two Bulls Wildfire."
The fire is burning in a mix of Deschutes National Forest and private land protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Officials said the patterns of the Two Bulls Wildfire show the state is off to a dry start for the 2014 fire season.
"We recently assessed the moisture levels of the logs and found that we are about a month ahead of where we normally are... the logs are burning like this is July," said Clark.
As people go outdoors during summer vacation, U.S. Forestry Department wants to remind people to be careful with fire. Find out before you head out if campfires are allowed, and make sure any campfire is completely put out if someone isn’t there to watch it.