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Warmer weather with thunderstorms in forecast

by: JEFF WILSON - During the worst of the smoky conditions from area wildfires, a National Guard Chinook helicopter lands at the Madras Municipal Airport.Rain and cooler weather in the middle of last week have allowed firefighters to bring the major fires burning in Jefferson County and on the Warm Springs Reservation under control, but weather concerns remain.

The Logging Unit Fires and the Shaniko Butte Fire, both on the reservation, are now at 80 percent and 85 percent containment, respectively, while the Bridge 99 Complex, in the southwestern part of the county, is 88 percent contained.

The fires, which were started by lightning on July 16, include the 10,440-acre Logging Unit Fires, located about 25 miles northwest of Warm Springs; the 42,044-acre Shaniko Butte Fire, about 12 miles north of Warm Springs; and the 5,699-acre Bridge 99 Complex, nine miles north of Camp Sherman.

As the Bridge 99 Complex has neared containment, the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery has reopened to the public, along with the Allen Springs, Pioneer Ford, Lower Bridge, Candle Creek, Monty and Perry South campgrounds. Both Forest Road 14 and 1120 are once again open, as well as the Pacific Crest Trail south of Mount Jefferson. However, a portion of the trail remains closed on the reservation, with a reroute in place for hikers.

The forecast of warm weather, low humidity, and the potential for isolated showers and thunderstorms this week have officials concerned about the threat of new fires.

For updates, or to check on the roads that remain closed to the public on the reservation, go to the InciWeb site at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/. The Shaniko Butte Fire is incident 3960, the Logging Unit Fires, incident 3973, and the Bridge 99 Complex, incident 3963.

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