PRINEVILLE, OR -- Firefighters are gaining ground on a wildfire southeast of Prineville that started as a controlled burn in the Ochoco National Forest. Kassidy Kern, with the Forest Service, says the East Maury unit was supposed to be a 333-acre prescribed burn.
She tells KBND News winds suddenly switched directions, last Thursday, pushing flames outside containment lines. "This is a pretty rare situation. It does happen, because anyone who has been in this for a while knows you can’t always control the weather, you can’t always control the conditions. So, as much science goes into prescribed burning, there is a bit of an art, too. You kind of have to herd it in the ways that you’re dealing with all these different variables."
As of Tuesday, the East Maury Fire was nearly 40% contained and had burned more than 1500 acres; about 90 acres is private land. Kern says once the response shifted to wildfire supression, the District Ranger immediately contacted the neighboring landowner. "They explained exactly what happened – that we had a change in wind direction that was something that necessitated then to turn into a wildfire situation. ‘There is some on your private lands,’ to the landowner. And he said, ‘we want to make sure you’re in on the conversations about what we’re doing.’" She adds, "The positive side of that, I would argue is that, we were able to, in converting it to a wildfire, get aerial resources that we need to get really in lock step with the private landowners and ODF and the rural fire protection agency. So, everybody was on the same page, they knew where we were going with this, and it became a full suppression fire, immediately."
Prescribed burns scheduled for near Bend, this week, have been shelved due to unfavorable weather conditions.
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