Tractor operator dies trying to suppress Oregon wildfire

first_imgPORTLAND — A man killed in an Oregon wildfire appears to have been trying to protect his neighbor’s property from flames sweeping through vast wheat fields in a rural farming area, authorities said Thursday.John Ruby, 64, was found near a burned-out tractor, and investigators believe he was attempting to clear a strip of land to prevent the flames from spreading. Desperate farmers tried to salvage their crops during harvest season as the blaze ignited Tuesday and scorched nearly 80 square miles.Firefighters crept into the fields in water trucks and tried to douse the leading edges of the fire from behind as it burned through acres of wheat east of Portland.It marked the unofficial start to the Pacific Northwest wildfire season that’s expected to be worse than normal because of drought and above-average temperatures.Other states across the American West, including California and Colorado, have struggled with massive blazes that have torn through land gripped by drought.Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said the deadly fire may have been intentionally set, and state investigators will help with the investigation. She also has declared an emergency.last_img read more