BEND, OR -- Wildland fire crews continue to battle two fires in Central Oregon after a weekend of hot, dry and windy weather.
The Trout Creek Fire (pictured), 10 miles north of Madras, is about 25% contained at 1,550 acres, as of Tuesday morning. It was first reported Sunday at 1 p.m. "It did grow quickly; just dry fuels, dry conditions," says Kaitlyn Webb, with the Central Oregon Fire Management Service, "It’s a little bit of a mix, fuel-wise: grass, sagebrush and some trees." It's burning on private land and the cause has not been determined.
Webb tells KBND News the initial attack was a multi-agency collaboration, "We had a variety of resources out there. There was the local rangeland protection association, Jefferson County resources, Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service resources." Webb adds, "We had both air and ground resources responding. We had everything from hand line to dozer line, to aerial retardant line around that fire."
After three weeks of very little activity, the Petes Lake Fire also grew quickly over the weekend, in the Three Sisters Wilderness. It's now over 3,000 acres. "It’s not that we were surprised at all, nor would this be unexpected to have a fire, once it’s hot and dry, to move out of just sort of a smoldering condition into producing more smoke," says Jean Nelson-Dean, "We knew, based on predicted weather, that we were going to face some hot and dry conditions with low humidity, with some winds. So, the growth on the fire was not unexpected and was being closely monitored the whole time." The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office issued new evacuation notices Monday, due to the fire's expanded perimeter. Find the latest info HERE.
She tells KBND News, "We prepared for contingencies ahead of time by putting in a shaded fuel break along the Cascade Lakes Highway. And today we have firefighters basically doing wrapping and structural protection work around Lava Lake and Elk Lake." Nelson-Dean says that shaded fuel break will provide an access point for ground crews if the fire approaches the Cascade Lakes Highway. For now, much of the firefight is happening from the air, due to the rugged terrain. Nelson-Dean reminds drone pilots that several fires in the Three Sisters Wilderness are relying heavily on aerial support, and those teams can’t fly if drones are in their airspace.
A Type 1 Management Team takes over the Petes Lake Fire Tuesday. Nelson-Dean says it was a logistical move because the same team is already working other fires in the area.
Picture of the Trout Creek Fire, courtesy of COFMS (09/18/23)