A wildfire in southern Oregon that started over the weekend was so intense that it disrupted 911 services and burned dozens of homes, which officials were not able to reach for days.
The Golden fire, which started on Saturday, damaged an estimated six miles of fiber-optic cable and more than 100 power poles, Lake County officials said on Tuesday. The county is on Oregon’s border with California and Nevada.
“We have state and federal resources helping us through this issue to get everything restored as quickly as possible,” Daniel Tague, the Lake County emergency manager, said in a statement. “We hope to have a temporary fix in the works.”
For now, Lake County emergency calls are being rerouted to Klamath County, where all 911 calls were being dispatched to the appropriate agencies.
“Community members can be confident their calls will be answered and help will arrive in a timely manner,” officials said.
While the Golden fire had disrupted 911 services in much of Lake County, which has a population of about 8,000, it also tore through communities, burning dozens of structures.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal began damage assessments on Tuesday, three days after the fire started. Until then, conditions had not been safe for personnel to reach the affected area. Low fuel moisture, 90-degree temperatures and high winds helped spread the fire, officials said, noting that downed power lines and road conditions had prevented crews’ access.
At least 43 homes and another 43 buildings were destroyed by the fire, mostly on Saturday, officials said. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
Currently 317 homes are under evacuation warnings. The Red Cross assisted or provided shelter for dozens of people over the weekend.
“Our goal on this fire has been, and will continue to be, to contain this fire to minimize its impact,” said Matt Howard, a fire incident commander. “Our job now is to fully suppress this fire so the recovery process can begin.”
As of Tuesday night, the Golden fire had burned more than 2,000 acres and was 9 percent contained, fire officials said. More than 400 people were assigned to battle the fire.
Crews are expected to continue working on Wednesday, moving deeper into the burned area to cool down hot spots.
The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release that the origin and cause of the fire was under investigation, after initial information that it may have started in an area where marijuana was being grown illegally proved false.
The full scale of damage remains to be seen, but one area resident, Sherry Booth, told KATU, a local television station, “It’s just devastating.”
She was in town over the weekend when she received a call that the fire was rushing toward her home.
“They were closing everything off, but we know a back way in so we did get to the house,” she said. “We had to go try to save our animals and the cops were at the house and they were just telling us to grab our animals, go, go, go.”
Ultimately, Ms. Booth lost her home in the fire.
“I did have insurance,” she said. “We’re going to see what we can do, what they have to say.”