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Land managers are reminding the public to use caution with fire as conditions dry

PHOTO COURTESY OF OCHOCO NATIONAL FOREST - Fire estimated at about 50 acres is believed to be human caused. Firefighters expect to contain the blaze during the weekend.

Wildland firefighters are responding to a new fire in the Maury Mountains south of Prineville, on the Lookout Mountain Ranger District of the Ochoco National Forest, discovered Wednesday afternoon along Forest Service Road 16, near the Hammer Creek trailhead about 8 miles south of Post.

The Hammer Fire is estimated at 50 acres, burning in dead and down fuels with some isolated torching, in the Hammer Creek and Florida Creek drainages.

Multiple engines and the Redmond Interagency Hotshot Crew worked into the night to contain the fire during high wind events Wednesday evening. Several hand crews arrived at the fire Thursday, and crews plan to burn out around the fire to contain and fully suppress it.

Weather forecasts are calling for possible rain in the area this weekend.

The fire has been determined human-caused, originating from an abandoned warming fire, but the incident is still under investigation.

Land managers remind the public that fuels are drying out and fire danger is expected to increase along with warmer weather. There are no public use restrictions in effect at this time on National Forest System lands in Central Oregon, but campfires should always be completely extinguished prior to vacating a campsite.

A good rule of thumb for extinguishing a campfire is to make sure it is cool to the touch prior to leaving. Simply covering a hot fire with dirt may not fully extinguish it. Campfires can smolder underground for several days and a strong wind event can uncover and rekindle them.

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