This year the Watson Creek Fire burned 60,000 acres of forest south-east of Bend, but local firefighters there were told to stand down due to a paperwork issue. Central Oregon Daily’s Brian Jennings has more on the story.
When firefighters on the ground in Central Oregon need aerial support there are eight air tankers on stand-by in Redmond, ready to drop retardant on fast-moving wildfires.
Kassidy Kern of the U.S. Forest Service said she encourages people to come out to the Redmond air tanker base, located right next to the Redmond Airport, to get a first hand look at the tankers getting prepped and ready to take off to assist with fires burning across Oregon and in southern Washington.
Central Oregon Daily’s Allison Roecker did just that, and went out to the base to see how they’re handling this potentially record-breaking fire season.
Two state agencies are trying to revise Oregon’s smoke management plan to accommodate more prescribed burns outside of the typical fire season. Representatives were in Bend Wednesday night for a public hearing to get feedback from Central Oregonians.
Curtis Vogel joins us from the Deschutes County services center with the story.
Residents Are Back Home After a Brush Fire Forced Evacuations
Firefighters are still monitoring hot spots along Highway 20 after a 74-acre brush fire destroyed two homes over the weekend.
Central Oregon Daily spoke to some residents who were evacuated with almost no notice on Saturday. Residents in the area were forced to make quick and tough decisions as the fast-moving fire barreled towards their homes.
One resident in the Coverdale area, said Saturday was their third evacuation in less than two years. This hammers home the point of why it’s so important to have a “go-bag” ready for situations like this.
Today is also the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office “Make-a-Kit” Monday, a campaign to help people get a “72-hour-kit” together. You can find more information about that at the sheriff’s website at www.sheriff.deschutes.org.
In the wake of fires burning throughout Oregon, Governor Kate Brown invoked the emergency conflagration act, authorizing the State Fire Marshal to mobilize resources to assist local resources battling the fire.
With those resources running slim, the Oregon National Guard has stepped in and trained over 400 citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen to serve as wildland firefighters.
Central Oregon Daily’s Warren Shultz has the story.
Residents in Dufur Threatened by Third Fire in Three Weeks
About 150 firefighters from around the state, as well as 150 local personnel, have responded to the rapidly growing South Valley Fire, which grew to more than 15,000 acres overnight. Crews worked overnight to build a fire line, and the fire is reported to be about five percent contained.
The Fire Marshal’s Office says at least 400 people are under the level 3 evacuation orders and at least 80 to 100 homes are threatened.
The Oregon Department of Transportation closed Highway 197 from milepost 14 to milepost 34 overnight while firefighters worked to control the flames. The highway has been re-opened in both directions and ODOT crews will continue to monitor fire activity in the area.
Officials say the fire is fueled by ponderosa pine, oak and wheat. Those dry fuels and steady winds over 45 miles per hour pushed the fire southeast.
The fire marshal’s office is currently investigating the fire as human-caused.
Over 200 firefighters from 73 Oregon fire agencies continue to battle the Substation Fire that has ripped across Wasco and Sherman counties. Dry conditions and high winds have made fighting the fire difficult despite air support. Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan has more on the on going fire fighting efforts.
Some residents near Culver and Lake Billy Chinook are returning to their homes for the first time since evacuating from the threat posed by the Graham Fire last week.
Central Oregon Daily’s Lisa Carton spent Monday in the fire area to look at some of the damages left behind by the fire and the homes that were saved by firefighters and defensible spaces around the houses.
A fire near Culver was threatening homes on Friday, and Central Oregon Daily’s Lisa Carton spent the day with the firefighters at the Graham Fire, south of the Metolius arm of Lake Billy Chinook. The fire ignited Thursday and has since burned roughly 2,000 acres. After evacuations were ordered state resources were called in to help battle the blaze after Governor Kate Brown declared the fire a conflagration.
Residents near Maupin have also been told to prepare for a possible evacuation as the Box Car Fire grew to 18,000 acres – making it the largest of the young fire season so far. Campers have been warned to stay out of the area and Highway 197 has been closed due to smoke.
Another prescribed burn happened near Sisters this week, which is the latest in a series of controlled burns that are designed to prevent larger wildfires later in the season.
For this week’s Supper Club, Lisa Carton sat down with three fire experts to talk about why these burns are so important to do right now, at this time of the year. The month of May is also wildfire awareness month in Oregon.
A special thanks to our Supper Club sponsors, Selco Community Credit Union, for giving us the time and resources to talk about the issues that impact our region every Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon on Central Oregon Daily.