An Oregon farmer has died in a fire after authorities say he was trying to create a fire line to protect his neighbor’s property.
On Wednesday afternoon the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office reported to a call of a burnt tractor. Deputies located the burnt tractor and the operator of the tractor, John Ruby, a short distance away. Investigators say it appears the 64-year-old long-time Wasco County resident was making efforts to prevent the fire advancing by creating a fire line with his tractor.
On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act in response to the Substation Fire near The Dalles. The Substation Fire has grown to more than 50,000 acres in north central Oregon. Local authorities issued evacuation notices to impacted residents.
The fire is incendiary in nature and is being investigated by the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police, Oregon State Fire Marshall, the Bureau of Land Managment, and the United States Forest Service.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Governor Brown said the Substation fire will have a significant effect on the state’s wheat farmers and agriculture industry.
“This is definitely our wheat basket, and it’s going to impact Oregon, it’s going to impact the world,” she said.
By Thursday afternoon 217 firefighters from 73 agencies across the state were working to contain the No. 1 fire in the country.