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Lightning blamed in Oregon wildfire

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 9:39 p.m.

PORTLAND — A southern Oregon wildfire destroyed six homes and 14 other buildings, and dozens of blazes ignited after thousands of lightning strikes lashed the state.

The destructive Moccasin Hill fire — named for a longstanding subdivision — began on Sunday near the ranching town of Sprague River, about 25 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, fire spokeswoman Erica Hupp said on Monday. Many residents keep horses and cattle on plots of three to five acres, and neighbors have been stepping in to shelter both stock and pets, she said.

The blaze encompasses 4½ square miles, fire officials said, and caused more than 100 people to evacuate before the threat subsided and many returned home.

Another fire spokeswoman, Tina O'Donnell, said 231 structures remained threatened, and one minor injury was reported. She did not know whether the injury was suffered by a resident or a firefighter.

Walter “Butch” Browning, who operates a general store in Sprague River, said the flames reached the driveway at his home on Sunday afternoon, forcing his wife to “get out of there” with a computer, a change of clothes, medications and the dogs. The wind changed direction, he said, sparing his place. He slept in his own bed, confident there were enough firefighters between his house and the blaze that has left burning stumps.

Wildfires are an annual concern for the community, Browning said. He has been evacuated at least four times in his 22 years on the property, and once lost a home, he said.

“I had two houses at one time; I have one now. I'm down to my last house,” he quipped. “It's the price you pay for living in paradise, I guess.”

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