Culver wildfire destroys homes, sends campers running from park

Culver wildfire destroys homes

CULVER, Ore. -- A fire sent campers running to collect their belongings and flee near Lake Billy Chinook Saturday, as flames quickly spread in windy conditions toward a nearby neighborhood.

When the flames reached the Culver subdivision, two homes and several outbuildings were quickly destroyed.

Brittney Melius told KGW it all happened very fast and flames were shooting 20 feet into the air in the campsite right next to hers.  She said even the park rangers didn't know what was happening at first, as people began to evacuate Cove Palisades State Park.  

Many people just left their gear behind and took off in their vehicles, Brittney said.  She also shared photos with KGW of the chaos and smoke. 

Saturday afternoon, Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins told KTVZ-TV in Bend "I think we've lost a couple houses." But there were no reports of injuries.

It started as a small brush fire about two miles Northwest of Culver and by 3:30, it had already spread to 200 acres, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.

Along with the campers, about 60 residents in a small subdivision west of Culver were getting evacuated.  The Red Cross was providing assistance as needed at Culver High School.

Fire officials said crews were challenged by steep slopes out of the park, dry conditions, and high winds. The area received little or no rain Saturday, they said, and fire conditions across Central Oregon remain extreme.

Top local headlines:

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Wind Advisory in Willamette Valley, damage widespread

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