The deadly Substation Fire that started near The Dalles has become the top priority wildfire in the U.S., according to fire officials.
Officials said Thursday afternoon that 217 firefighters from 73 agencies across the state were working to control the 50,000-acre wildfire.
Additional resources, including 60 more people to help on all aspects of the firefighting operation, were headed to the scene Thursday after the fire was designated the country's top priority wildfire.
Officials said there was also a significant air attack being utilized on the fire, including multiple tankers dropping water and retardant.
Firefighters said 35-40 mph winds created challenging conditions for firefighters Thursday, with the fire seeing significant growth at its south end, as well as growth to the north.
The fire was first spotted Tuesday near The Dalles and quickly got out of control. It spread 18 miles south its first night.
One person has died as a result of the fire. Investigators said 64-year-old John Ruby was creating a fire line with his tractor to protect neighboring property when he died from exposure to the fire.
The Ruby family released a statement Thursday thanking the community for their support, while also acknowledging that they were still "actively working to keep our friends and neighbors safe." A donation fund was also established by the family.
Wasco County Sheriff Lane Magill said Thursday multiple agencies were working around the clock to determine the cause of the fire. He described it as an "ongoing criminal investigation," but he said releasing any further details could compromise the investigation.
A tip line was created as part of the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-452-7888.
Officials said 900 homes were under Level 2 – "Be set" – and Level 3 – "Go now" – evacuation orders. The towns of Moro and Grass Valley were under Level 3 evacuations.
As of Thursday evening, Biggs Junction was reduced to a Level 2 evacuation.
Evacuation updates are being posted at facebook.com/SubstationFire2018.
Drivers were advised to use caution in the area, due to low visibility from smoke.