Wildfire near Biggs Junction in gorge now contained

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BIGGS, Ore. – Wildfire danger remains especially high and many parts of Oregon remain under a Red Flag Warning through 8 p.m. Friday.

One of the worst fires so far started along the railroad tracks near an abandoned hotel in the small town of Biggs, in the Columbia River Gorge, and quickly spread to grass, brush and trees. As of late Thursday morning, crews said they felt confident the fire was contained at about 1,000 acres.

Two homes had been evacuated and one was destroyed, along with several outbuildings, according to Sherman County Emergency Services Director Shawn Payne. He said a dog from the burned home also bit a firefighter, but that was the only injury.

Ranch owner John Raczykowski sprayed water on the roof of his home and his neighbor's. "We moved their tractors and RVs and cars out of there for them," he said, explaining that his neighbors were out of town. "The fire department stayed there and kept the fire back and saved the home."

After the fire first broke out Wednesday, U.S. Highway 30 was closed in both directions and shoulders along I-84 were also closed in both directions, due to flames and smoke from the wildfire. All those roadways have since been reopened.

Homes along U.S. Highway 30 were also threatened, but have not burned,

About 50 firefighters from Klickitat, Gilliam, Wasco, and Sherman counties battled the blaze, which stretched both south and east of Biggs. There were no plans to evacuate Rufus and no one has been injured at this time, Payne said.

Payne said a state fire marshal's investigation has determined the fire was human caused but unintentional, possibly started by a cigarette that had been discarded near the railroad tracks.

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NOTE: In an earlier version of this story, we said that two homes were destroyed by the wildfire in the Biggs area, but authorities have since corrected that to say one was destroyed, and it was a mobile home.


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