(TargetLiberty.org) – Over 380 acres of forest have burned near Mapleton, OR, in a blaze local cops say was set deliberately. A 44-year-old Mapleton man, Elias Newton Pendergrass, has been arrested and charged with first-degree arson – but meanwhile, the fire is burning out of control.
The state forestry department says the blaze started as several separate fires, which have now merged into a single major one. The fire is burning through steep, forested slopes in the Siuslaw River valley, making it difficult to reach. Helicopters have been dropping water on it but forestry officials say it’s only 15% contained. Dozens of residents have been ordered to evacuate, and warmer, dryer weather could lead to the fire spreading faster.
Firefighters continue to build and reinforce control lines on the Sweet Creek Milepost 2 Fire. Helicopters are dropping water on the fire. Estimated at over 500 acres, the fire is burning south in forestland, away from the town of Mapleton. Read more at https://t.co/eHBnnOWDI8 pic.twitter.com/9lYmpJJDu3
— Oregon Forestry (@ORDeptForestry) August 31, 2020
The West Coast is suffering badly from wildfires this year, with the San Francisco Bay area affected by smoke from fires in northern California and multiple fires burning around Los Angeles.
Last month, a homeless man was charged with arson after a fire burned over 4,000 acres of the Angeles National Forest.
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