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Wildfires threaten homes on Oregon reservation

CLAMO, Ore. -- Firefighters worked under a "red flag warning" in central Oregon on Sunday as they battled a complex of wildfires that has burned 33,000 acres.

Pam Sichting of the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center said the critical fire weather could lead to erratic winds, new fire starts and potential danger to firefighters around the central Oregon town of Clarno, about 60 miles southeast of The Dalles.

Thunderstorms were expected to bring some rain to the area, but not enough to help firefighters.

Containment was estimated at 50 percent at the Hancock complex but officials said the fires still threatened about 15 homes and 50 outbuildings.

No one has been injured in the Hancock complex of fires as of Sunday afternoon, and Sichting reported no new evacuations. Fire officials reported several fires within the complex have already been contained and firefighters were making good progress on containing others, but a few were still actively burning Sunday and another was found burning within the Mt. Washington Wilderness 15 miles west of Sisters.

About 55 youth campers were evacuated from the area a few days ago, because firefighters couldn't be sure when a summer science camp would be able to get back to its field research at the camp operated by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

About 314 were fighting the fire on Sunday, with help from 20 fire engines and three helicopters.

Meanwhile, a wildfire near the Warm Springs Reservation had grown. Warm Springs Fire Management said residents of about 15 homes were put on an evacuation alert in the Sidwalter Area.

Storms over the weekend put down roughly 1,000 lightning strikes in the area, according to Central Oregon Incident Information. Fire officials asked campers and hunters to be careful not to start new fires during this dry, hot period.

Close to the town of Warm Springs, the West Hills blaze has burned 1,500 acres, prompting some home evacuations along a road to provide less congestion during burnout operations.

The Razorback Fire burning on both sides of the Lower Deschutes River has burned about 20,239 acres and fire officials had no estimate of containment on Sunday.

That blaze is part of a trio of fires called the High Cascades Complex, which was declared a conflagration by Gov. John Kitzhaber on Sunday. Officials said the declaration cleared the way for the state fire marshal to call for equipment and fire crews to help local resources protect structures. Officials said about 190 homes were threatened.

Firefighters face the challenges of steep and rugged terrain, and light, flashy fuels that ignite and burn quickly.

A number of smaller fires also continued to burn in the area.

Several campgrounds have been closed, although rafters were still allowed to go down the Lower Deschutes River through Warm Spring on Sunday. Fire officials warned boaters, however, that their vehicles may be in danger if the fire spreads.

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