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  • 22 Oct 2014

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Lightning sparks dozens of Central Oregon fires

Other local fires likely human-caused


by: JEFF WILSON - Fire torches a tree on the hill above Juniper Hills Park on Saturday.Smoke continued to obscure Central Oregon fires on Wednesday following a Sunday lightning storm, with about 3,400 strikes, that caused numerous fires in the region, including about 30 on the Warm Springs Reservation.

By Tuesday morning, four of the fires in the Mutton Mountains area of the reservation — the Shaniko Butte Fire — had grown together into a fire of about 10,000 acres about 12 miles north of Warm Springs.

The hot, windy and dry weather on Monday contributed to the explosion of the Shaniko Butte Fire, which grew from about 40 acres on Sunday to 10,000.

The fire had about 140 firefighters on Monday, and more were expected to battle the blazes on Tuesday.

Other smaller fires included two on Shitike Butte, which burned about 50 acres, the Dry Hollow Fire, which was about 168 acres, the Pyramid Lake Fire, which was contained at 2 acres on Sunday, and the Beaver Butte Fire, which was kept at half an acre on Sunday.

On Tuesday morning, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville reported that the Bridge 99 Fire, located about one-half mile east of the Lower Bridge Campground and nine miles north of Camp Sherman, off Forest Service Road 1490, was about 300 acres.

The fire was holding on the ridge and south of Parker Creek, with a nearby fire, No. 318, at approximately 20 acres.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed the Lower Bridge, Allen Springs and Pioneer Ford campgrounds, as well as the Green Ridge Lookout, as a result of the fires, and people are asked to avoid the area.

Juniper Hills Park fire

On Saturday, a passerby reported a fire in the disc golf course at Juniper Hills Park at 1:14 p.m. The fire, burning in juniper, brush and natural vegetation, grew to about five to seven acres, according to Tom Jaca, assistant fire chief for the Jefferson County Fire District.

The fire department responded to the fire with four engines, a command rig, and nine personnel, and was assisted by two engines from the Bureau of Land Management, with a 10-man hand crew, and two engines from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, with four personnel.

"The Walston residence, to the northeast of the fire, was the main concern," said Jaca. "The crews did a direct attact and we utilized two BLM engines and two BIA engines."

"The terrain is fairly steep and it's real sandy soil, so it was difficult to get around with an engine," he noted.

Firefighters were on the fire for about six hours, and returned on Sunday to mop up and check for hot spots.