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Firefighters work to contain wildfire threatening Oregon city

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND Ore. (Reuters) - Firefighters were working on Monday to prevent an Oregon wildfire that has forced home evacuations and school closures from spreading into the small city of Bend, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The so-called Two Bulls fire has charred some 6,800-acres of heavy brush and timber and forced the evacuation of 250 homes in Deschutes County since two fires sparked by humans over the weekend swirled into one blaze, the service said.

Hundreds of firefighters together with nearly 50 fire engines, 11 bulldozers, and 11 helicopters had contained 25 percent of the blaze by late on Monday.

But some 2,000 homes and a major source of drinking water remained threatened in and near the city of some 80,000 residents to the east, with winds forecast to pick up to 40 miles per hour on Tuesday likely to hamper containment efforts.

"It's certainly a complex fire with it being close to the city of Bend and close to the city of Bend's watershed," said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Jean Nelson-Dean.

Oregon senator Jeff Merkley said on Monday the West Coast state's June 8 request for Federal Emergency Management Agency aid had been approved.

Three schools near the evacuation zone would remain closed on Tuesday and 50 homes remained under evacuation orders late on Monday, down from the initial 250, the U.S. Forest Service said.

No structures have been damaged and the only injury has been one firefighter who suffered a minor leg laceration, it said.

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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