Fire in national forest in Clackamas County grows by about half

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PORTLAND, Oregon — A wildfire in Clackamas County has spread through the night, and authorities said Tuesday that its area has grown by about half.

The fire is burning through grass and timber in the national forest 10 miles southeast of Estacada, a town of about 2,900. The town is not considered threatened.

An RV park, a campground, a stretch of the highway and an area for off-road vehicles have been closed. About 40 homes are under evacuation orders, and residents of about 120 more have been told to get ready to leave. The fire also threatens industrial timberland.

The fire area is now about 5.5 square miles, nearly 3,600 acres. Authorities said they suspect a target shooter in a gravel pit set it off on Saturday.

Heavy smoke from the fire has stretched into the Willamette Valley and as far as Salem, causing concerns for people with respiratory problems.

About 500 people are fighting the fire, and Gov. John Kitzhaber has authorized the state fire marshal to send in local fire departments to protect buildings.

Clackamas County Commissioners on Tuesday approved an emergency order allowing the county to seek state assistance for response to the fire.

Firefighters are also battling a blaze on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest about 15 miles west of Grants Pass, which grew by 1,000 acres to nearly 3,000 acres overnight. Several campgrounds and forest roads have been closed, and area residences have been put on alert for possible evacuations.

Officials said that fire, which also started Saturday, is human caused, but they did not provide any further details.

About 300 homes are threatened by the fire and more than 300 personnel are battling the blaze.

Officials say cooler weather and a chance of rain should help with the firefighting in Oregon.

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