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Fast-moving wildfire spreads quickly as triple-digit temperatures scorch southwest Oregon

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CANYONVILLE, Oregon — Record-breaking heat and parched forestlands fueled a southwest Oregon wildfire that rapidly spread to nearly 10 square miles.

The fire started Thursday afternoon in the unincorporated community of Milo — east of Canyonville. A few hours later, helicopters were dumping pond water on the hillside flames and aerial tankers dropped retardant.

On Friday, the Douglas County sheriff's office advised people living in about three-dozen homes to evacuate, said Justin de Ruyter, a spokesman for fire crews.

Gov. Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act so the Oregon fire marshal can mobilize resources from around the state to protect homes. About 450 firefighters were on the scene Friday.

PHOTO: A helicopter prepares to dump water on a wildfire near Milo, Ore., Thursday, July 30, 2015. (Michael Sullivan/The News-Review via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
A helicopter prepares to dump water on a wildfire near Milo, Ore., Thursday, July 30, 2015. (Michael Sullivan/The News-Review via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

"As temperatures rise across Oregon this week, the Stouts Creek Fire has explosively grown amid record-setting fuel conditions and extreme drought," Brown said in a statement Friday. "This declaration allows us to quickly dedicate more resources to the fire in the effort to save lives and property."

Kyle Reed of the Douglas Forest Protective Association said some homes were threatened, but none burned. Residents choosing to leave could go to a crisis shelter at Canyonville Elementary School.

Reed said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Temperatures well over 100 degrees were forecast for Friday and Saturday before some slight cooling.

"It was crazy how fast it grew," Kris Faulkner, a 28-year-old carpenter, told the Roseburg News-Review (http://is.gd/nzMR5K ). "It couldn't come at a worse time."

The area near Canyonville has a history of explosive wildfires. One of them, the 1987 Bland Mountain fire, destroyed 14 homes and killed loggers Mark Giles and James Moore.

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