Homes threatened by 21,000-acre Nena Springs fire

Fire started early Tuesday night

The Nena Springs Fire started Tuesday night and grew to more than 16,000 acres by Wednesday night, Aug. 9, 2017 (Warm Springs Fire Management)

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. (KOIN) — Fire officials said the Nena Springs Fire grew from 3,700 acres Wednesday morning to 21,000 acres Thursday afternoon.

Brad Donahue with Warm Springs Fire Management said the fire started Tuesday around 6 p.m. just off of the north end of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. According to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, this fire was cause by humans.

The Nena Springs Fire grew to more than 16,000 acres by Wednesday night, Aug. 9, 2017 (Courtesy photo: Misty Suppah-Jay)

“We are going to try to keep it out of the Warm Springs drainage,” Donahue said. “That drainage is the main drainage that runs down to Warm Springs.”

Evacuation notices have been issued for the Schoolie Flats subdivision and Simnasho. Fourteen homes are in the danger zone and people in 70 homes are being told to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

One home in an isolated area burned down overnight Wednesday.

“He’s a local and it was pretty devastating,” local store employee Elizabeth Simtustus said. “His house has been there forever.”

Simtustus has been helping people navigate around the fire. She said this is her fourth experience with a wildfire in Simnasho and she is also on alert for evacuation.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at the Warm Springs Community Center. Two evacuees were housed there overnight Wednesday and several others stayed at campgrounds.

Officials said 60-70 firefighters are currently working the Nena Springs fire and they would bring in more, but crews are stretched thin because there are so many wildfires burning in the are.

There are 17 active wildfires burning in the Northwest, many of them in Oregon. Firefighters are currently fighting fire with fire in the Mt. Jefferson wilderness, where the Whitewater Fire is burning nearly 6,000 acres.

Marion County leaders hope their strategy of using controlled burns to clear our fuel for this wildfire will reduce the smoke in the air while the solar eclipse happens on August 21.