Evacuation order lifted for 700 homes near Rowena wildfire

Evacuation order lifted for 700 homes near Rowena wildfire
In this Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014 photo, a helicopter drops water into a ravine just west of Chenowith Street as the fight to stop the Rowena Fire west of The Dalles, Ore. (AP Photo/The Dalles Chronicle, Mark B. Gibson)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Residents near a Columbia Gorge wildfire have been permitted to return to their homes, though officials warned them to remain on alert.

The Oregon Department of Forestry says Saturday that it has lifted the evacuation order for 740 residences.

The fire has burned across about 5 square miles since it started Tuesday. It's about 55 percent contained after burnout operations on Friday and early Saturday. The cause is still under investigation.

Crews focused on burnout operations to deprive the fire of fuel and improve containment lines. Firefighters also worked to create more defensible space around homes in the small town of Rowena.

Firefighters were concerned about unburned fuel near the fire, but believe burnouts and containment lines will reduce the threat of fire runs.