Two wildfires, burning some six miles north of Madras along U.S. Highway 97, at 4 p.m., Tuesday, July 25, spread through sagebrush and dry grass, as firefighters worked to protect area homes.
The cause of the fires is under investigation, but one 450-acre fire began near milepost 87, on private land owned by the R2 Ranch. The second 1,500 fire was on Crooked River National Grassland, south of milepost 87, according to information from Susan Garner with the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.
Although flames could be seen licking the highway, U.S. 97 traffic was still let through, and several people could be seen parked on the side of the highway watching the dramatic scene.
Along with firefighting crews, three heavy air tankers, two single-engine air tankers, one helicopter, eight fire engines, and two bulldozers responded to fight the flames.
The fire, now called the Emerson Fire, reportedly grew to 5,000 acres and was still being fought Wednesday morning.