Wildfires rage in all directions


Mid-week rain helpful

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Looking south toward the Cove from Jordan Road, smoke blocked the view of the water on Friday.Ten days after lightning started dozens of fires in Jefferson County and on the Warm Springs Reservation, several are still burning and have consumed more than 57,000 acres.

The fires include the 5,915-acre Bridge 99 Complex, nine miles north of Camp Sherman, the 40,575-acre Shaniko Butte Fire, 12 miles north of Warm Springs, and the 10,350-acre Logging Unit Fires, on the north side of Bear Butte, also on the reservation.

The rapid expansion of the Bridge 99 Complex last week caused the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office to issue evacuation orders on the morning of July 17, for private lands along the Metolius River. Deputies scrambled to notify residents and visitors to the area of the immediate wildfire danger, and closed the road beyond the entrance to the Three Rivers Recreation Area, about 20 miles southwest of Madras.

by: JEFF WILSON - A Blackhawk helicopter and bucket take off from the Madras Municipal Airport, 
headed for the Logging Unit Fires on the Warm Springs Reservation on Saturday.On Tuesday afternoon, the evacuation level for all private lands along the Metolius, extending from Allen Springs Campground to Lake Billy Chinook, including the Metolius arm, was reduced to Level II, which means that there is no longer imminent danger, but residents should be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

The Three Rivers Subdivision is under a Level I evacuation order, which means residents may need to evacuate if they need additional time to leave, or if they have health problems.

Subdivisions such as Rim Park, Forest Park and Air Park, as well as the Cove Palisades State Park are also under a Level I evacuation order.

The Bridge 99 Complex consists of the Bridge 99 Fire, east of the Metolius River, and on the west-facing slopes of Green Ridge, and the Bear Butte 2 Fire, located about seven miles northwest of the Bridge 99 Fire, adjacent to Jefferson Creek and west of the Park Creek drainage within the Mount Jefferson Wilderness.

The complex, burning in steep, rugged terrain, with heavy timber and brush, is 50 percent contained.

The Logging Unit Fires are located on the reservation, near the Bear Butte 2 Fire, and include Camas Prairie, Logging Unit, Skyline, Haily and the north side of Bear Butte 2. From the crest of the Cascade Mountains east across the reservation, there were 1,500-1,700 lightning strikes Tuesday afternoon and evening, which will be monitored.

Two Oregon Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopters and two CH-47 Chinook helicopters responded to the Logging Unit Fire on Saturday, flying out of the Madras Municipal Airport. They remained on the Logging Unit Fire on Wednesday.

The fire is about 3.5 miles from the nearest structure and eight miles from the incident command post, which has been set up on County Line Road, north of Warm Springs.

With the cooler, wetter weather on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Level I notification order for residents of the Sid Walters Flat area was lifted Wednesday afternoon. About 60 residences of tribal members have been affected by the fire since July 19.

Road and other area closures on the reservation remain in effect until further notice.

Firefighters have made great progress on the Shaniko Butte Fire, which is now 75 percent contained, thanks to cooler, slightly wetter weather, and the evacuation level for residents of the Dant area was also lowered to Level 1 on Tuesday morning.

Due to the fire, the Lower Deschutes River had been closed to rafters, but the Bureau of Land Management reopened it Monday morning. However, rafters need to be aware that helicopters may be dipping water from the river to fight the fires.

Numerous forest roads have been closed as a result of the fires. Check the Web at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3960/ for more information on the Shaniko Butte Fire. Information on the Bridge 99 Complex (incident 3963), and the Logging Unit Fires 9 (incident 3973) can also be obtained on the InciWeb site.