The Wasco County Sheriff's Office issued Level-III evacuation notices due to the massive wildfire burning near The Dalles Thursday morning.
Firefighters say that means people living in the affected areas should evacuate immediately. Those areas are Ketchum Road and Vensel Road to the Osburn cut-off and any nearby side roads, as well as Mosier Creek Road (addresses 2855 to 3475) and Godberson Road (within three miles of southern end of the road).
Thursday is described as a "crucial day" for the firefighters battling the 11,000-acre wildfire, officials say, as weather conditions bring the potential for the fire to spread rapidly.
Four homes and nine outbuildings have been destroyed by the Blackburn Fire since it broke out Aug. 16. No injuries have been reported.
The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for the Columbia River Gorge, meaning lightning could start new fires. Thunderstorms on Thursday may also bring more wind to the Blackburn Fire.
Crews continue to secure and patrol homes along Upper Mill Creek and Reservoir roads, as well as a water treatment plant for The Dalles. Level-II evacuation notices are in place for homeowners along Obrist Road, Upper Mill Creek Road, Wells Road, Chenoweth Road and Browns Creek Road. People there should be prepared to evacuate in case it becomes necessary.
"This has been a really hard and weird week," said Lee Weinsten, who lives near the wildfire. "I think our nerves have been on edge (and) psychologically it's been difficult for us."
The Blackburn Fire is part of the Government Flat Complex fires, which was 15 percent contained as of Thursday morning.
In the past few days, the fire has burned onto the Mount Hood National Forest, but crews continue to hold the line on the north, east and south sides of the blaze. Officials believe it's possible the fire will move further to the west, north to Ketchum Road and Thompson Point.
Firefighter said their number one priority remains limiting the impact to public and private land, major BPA transmission lines and protecting The Dalles water treatment plant.
More than 850 firefighters and support people are working on the fire. A total of 10 helicopters are being used to battle the blaze.
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