BURNS, Ore. - Fire crews are coming in from out of state to help battle fires that have stretched resources thin in Oregon and threatened ranchers' livelihoods.

Fifteen large fires were reported around the state Friday, burning across 565 square miles of timber, range land and grass. Dozens of homes were evacuated.

Spokeswoman Carol Connolly at the federal fire center in Portland says the region is now the top firefighting priority in the nation.

In Burns, rancher Bill Wilber has already found seven dead cows and 13 dead calves. He expects more losses and blames the fires for the cattle deaths.

He said it's difficult to get an exact number of dead and wounded animals because the ground on his land is still extremely hot.

Bob Skinner, a rancher who lives in Jordan Valley, has personally been fighting the Buzzard Complex fire.

"These fires impact you for years to come and it's also a huge emotional drain," he said. "Plus, these big fires just annihilate the wildlife. It's not a good situation."

Connolly said crews and management teams have been dispatched from around the country, bringing the total of firefighting personnel in Oregon to more than 5,000.

The bulk of the fires were touched off by lightning storms moving through the drought-parched region last weekend.

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