Canyon Creek Complex fire continues to claim homes near John Day - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Canyon Creek Complex fire continues to claim homes near John Day


One of the most destructive wildfires in the region is near John Day where hundreds of people still can't go home Tuesday night, while dozens more don't have a home left to go to at all.

Firefighters on the scene say they are still trying to get a handle on what's proven to be one of the state's most destructive fires.

Most of that damage is down a stretch of Highway 395. Homes are burned to the ground on both sides of the road, and firefighters there working to protect the one's still standing.

There are 43,000 acres burning around them. But on a hill outside John Day, crews said the best way to save one home was to fight fire with fire.

Dan Zinn of the U.S. Forestry Service explained as firefighters started their own fire, their best defense was burning anything close to the house that could be fuel for the Canyon Creek Complex fire.

These were flames they could control, when so much around them for the last six days has been out of control.

“It's hard to protect the home if the fire's running towards it,” he said.

The fire has destroyed 26 homes, and the crews know that almost 180 more are in its path.

Firefighters are trying to keep them safe, but as of Tuesday the flames are less than five percent contained.

Until that number grows, it's a waiting game for residents who had to flee with nothing, as volunteer Lori Garrison explained.

“Some have been spared, but they've also been evacuated,” she said.

Inside the county fairgrounds where volunteers are helping the evacuees, donations are stacking up. Things like toothbrushes, pillows and even dog food – basic necessities that people had to leave behind when they were told to evacuate.

“For three days, we have been unloading pick up loads and pick up loads of donations,” Garrison said. “It breaks your heart, yet it fills your heart at the same time to see the people so engrossed in this, wanting to help.”

It is about giving anything to help get folks by, until the firefighters, known here as heroes, say it's safe to go home.

Crews say their primary objective is to protect the five hundred structures, including homes, at risk. After that it's a matter of getting the fire contained.

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