SISTERS, OR -- The Petes Lake Fire, discovered Friday evening after a lightning storm, is one of several wildfires sending smoke into Central Oregon. It’s burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness along the border between the Willamette and Deschutes National Forest. As of Tuesday morning, fire managers say it remains 300 acres, but 0% contained.
Jaimie Olle, with the Forest Service, says trail closures and evacuation orders are in place, "Our wilderness and recreation staff on both the Deschutes and Willamette National Forest were conducting sweeps in the general area of the forest, so hiking into those trails and connecting with folks." Evacuating an area with poor cell service and remote trails isn’t easy. But Olle says the new permits required for that area are a help, "Wilderness Permits are a great indicator for who might be in the wilderness, as well as looking at vehicle traffic at different trailheads and different entry points into the wilderness. These are metrics that our rangers and different staff use to try and help gauge how many folks are in there and how many contacts they’ve made, to help make sure that everyone gets out safely." Around a dozen hikers were evacuated from the Deschutes side of the fire zone over the weekend.
Olle says crews have been challeneged by smoky conditions, hindering air support, and its remote location, "There are no roads into the wilderness, so folks relying on a lot of aerial support, both to get to the fire, as well as to deliver supplies and things that they might need. So that presents some different opportunities for how we might need to strategize and address this fire."
A Type III team took over management Monday, and a Type II team is on the way, "Currently assigned to the Petes Lake Fire, resources include: on the ground - six smokejumpers, four repellers, three hand crews; and these firefighters are being supported with three Type II helicopters. And that incoming team will bolster the overhead capabilities for this fire, as well."