500,000 people in Oregon forced to flee wildfires


SALEM, Ore. (NewsNation Now) — Authorities in Oregon now say more than 500,000 people statewide have been forced to evacuate because of wildfires.

The latest figures from Thursday evening come from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. That’s over 10% of the state’s 4.2 million population.

More than 1,400 square miles (3,625 square kilometers) have burned this week in the state. Authorities say the wildfire activity was particularly acute Thursday afternoon in northwestern Oregon as hot, windy conditions continued.

At a news conference Thursday, Gov. Kate Brown said there have been fatalities but the exact number is not yet known. There have been at least three reported fire deaths in the state.

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Corrections says it is evacuating a prison out of an abundance of caution as two large wildfires in the area appear to be merging.

Authorities said Thursday afternoon they evacuated more than 1,300 adults in custody at the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Wilsonville, which houses mostly women.

Officials say those evacuated are being relocated and not released.

Wilsonville is about 16 miles (26 kilometers) south of Portland.

Earlier this week, fires triggered evacuations at three other prisons near Oregon’s capital city of Salem.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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