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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

10,000-acre fire near Oroville in Okanogan County prompts evacuations on Sunday

By Elena Perry and Kip Hill The Spokesman-Review

An estimated 10,000-acre fire that sparked Saturday afternoon southwest of Oroville has burned across the U.S.-Canadian border and is prompting evacuations in Okanogan County.

The Eagle Bluff Fire is 0% contained and has destroyed three residences and a structure in which no people were living, according to an incident response team.

The fire was first reported just after 2:30 p.m. Saturday near 239 Eagles Bluff Road, southwest of Oroville. As of Sunday afternoon, it had grown to an estimated 10,000 acres and caused evacuations for residents on both the east and west side of state Route 97 from Shirley Road, near the border, to Oroville, according to Okanogan County Emergency Management.

The Red Cross has established a shelter at Oroville High School, 1008 Ironwood St., for those forced to evacuate. Those seeking shelter should bring emergency and prescription medication, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene products and other comfort items.

A spokesperson from the Red Cross said 27 people arrived early Sunday morning and slept at the shelter. They left Sunday afternoon. Though no one is currently at the shelter, the Red Cross said they intend to keep it open Sunday night and longer as the community needs.

Residents who need shelter for animals should go to the Tonasket Rodeo Grounds, at 12 Rodeo Road.

Deployed to fight the fire are 250 personnel, including units from the Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and local fire districts. Firefighters are using full suppression strategies to calm the blaze, including air and ground assets.

Canadian units are fighting the flames north of the border while U.S. teams manage the fire to the south. The two authorities communicate fire activity and strategies, said Jeffrey Todd, spokesperson from the incident response team.

The Washington State Fire Marshal’s Office has mobilized state resources to fight the fire, which is burning in sage and scattered timber.

Todd anticipates forecast winds of up to 30 mph from both the north and south will present challenges for firefighters.

“That’s a really big tool for the fire to grow,” he said.

Winds also contribute to the spread of smoke, which the incident response team expects to linger in the air for the next few days. The team advises smoke-sensitive individuals to stay inside and take precautions. Precautions extend to those driving in affected areas. Todd asked drivers to slow down, citing reduced visibility from smoke and fire engines and other equipment in roadways.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.