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Rowena wildfire: Containment now at 55 percent as crews focus on mop-up around homes

Helen Jung | By Helen Jung | 
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on August 09, 2014 at 9:00 AM, updated August 09, 2014 at 9:31 AM
Fire crews made progress building containment lines around the Rowena wildfire near The Dalles, which grew overnight to 3,565 acres, a state forestry spokesman said.
Winds have tamped down and crews are hopeful they will be able to extinguish hot spots and conduct other mop-up around residential areas on Saturday, said Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Mitch Taylor.
The fire in the Columbia River Gorge is now about 55 percent contained, up from 35 percent on Friday. It has destroyed one home, and damaged two others.
About 143 homes remain under a Level 3 evacuation order, which calls for residents to leave immediately. Another 600 remain on Level 1 alert to be prepared for evacuation.
Taylor said authorities remain concerned about other hazards in the evacuation area, including falling rocks and vegetation that have come loose along the steep slope where the fire burned.
U.S. 30 remains closed from Mosier to west of The Dalles Saturday, the Oregon Department of Transportation said. Motorists are directed to use Interstate 84 and to be alert for congestion due to smoke and firefighter activity. There is no estimate on when the highway might be reopened. 
The cause of the fire, which started Tuesday, is under investigation. Gov. John Kitzhaber invoked the conflagration act, authorizing the Oregon fire marshal to mobilize crews to focus on protecting homes other structures. 
-- Helen Jung
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