Along Metolius River

by: HOLLY M. GILL - With the rapid expansion of the Bridge 99 Fire Complex, residents of the Three Rivers area southwest of Madras have been advised that there is a Level II evacuation order in place and they should evacuate, while residents on private lands along the Metolius River are under a Level III evacuation order. Level III is the most serious, and means there is imminent danger and residents should evacuate immediately. Three Rivers is about 20 miles southwest of Madras.After issuing evacuation orders Thursday morning for private lands along the Metolius River, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office hurried to notify residents of the area of the immediate wildfire danger from the Bridge 99 Fire Complex.

Evacuation orders for all private lands along the Metolius extend from Allen Springs Campground to Lake Billy Chinook, including the Metolius arm. The Level III order means that there is imminent danger and residents should leave immediately, without gathering belongings or making efforts to protect their homes.

The Three Rivers Subdivision is under a Level II evacuation order, which means residents are encouraged to evacuate as soon as possible. If residents take time to gather belongings, it is at their own risk. Evacuation is mandatory, and residents may be denied re-entry into the area.

Subdivisions such as Rim Park, Forest Park and Air Park, as well as the Cove Palisades State Park are under a Level I evacuation order, which means they may need to evacuate if they need additional time to leave, or if they have health problems.

The Bridge 99 Complex, started by lightning on July 13, had burned about 3,464 acres as of 10 a.m. July 17, and was 2 percent contained. There were 219 firefighters battling the fire, which had tripled in size from July 16. It is burning in steep, rugged terrain, with heavy timber and brush.

The complex consists of the 1,837-acre Bridge 99 Fire, which is burning 18 miles northwest of Sisters, 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.

The Bear Butte Fire, which was 1,627 acres, is located 4.5 miles southeast of Mount Jefferson. About 1,113 of those acres are on lands owned by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning that there will be low relative humidity at 12 percent, and high winds until 9 p.m. Friday night, with temperatures in the upper 90s.

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