Oregon Fire Burns 5,500 Acres

August 19, 2008

Three wildfires touched off by lightning in the Ochoco National Forest in Oregon have merged into one large blaze covering about 5,500 acres.

Smoke from the Bridge Creek Fire could be seen from Bend to John Day, Ore.

There were 55 people battling the blaze, but additional resources have been requested, including two heavy-lift helicopters and bulldozers.

The Gnarl Ridge fire on the east side of Mount Hood had not grown in size by Monday, but officials are worried that the severe thunderstorms passing over the area may lead to new fires starting up across fire lines.

Structures at the Tilly Jane and Cloud Cap campgrounds were wrapped in a protective foil coating, and sprinklers were set up at Tilly Jane, said Jeree Mills, spokeswoman for the fire dispatchers at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.

Residents of the Cooper Spur and Mountain Shadow areas were given warning they might have to evacuate, she said. About 35 people were considered threatened, she said.

Lightning strikes continued to pound the state from south to north Monday morning, but not all were accompanied by heavy rain. Mills said the strikes were concentrated in the Cascade Range and western Oregon.

With high winds Monday, she said, “We expect to get quite a few more fires out of this.”

Damage caused by lightning strikes typically doesn’t show up until the heat starts the next day, said Kim Smolp, fire information officer for the Northwest Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team.

But cooling temperatures might help undo the damage, she said.

In Central Oregon, a fire named Summit Springs was on about 1,000 acres 10 miles north of Sisters.

A fire north of Crane Prairie Reservoir, off the Cascade Lakes Scenic Highway, pushed smoke into southern Deschutes County and along Highway 97.

The Snow Creek Fire about 14 miles west of Sunriver was in an area of 300 acres to 600 acres.

The North Pole Ridge Fire remains at 6,300 acres mostly in grasslands north of Clarno along the Lower John Day River and was 80 percent contained.

Fire officials said they worry that “sleeper fires” could smolder and then ignite when hot weather returns by the weekend.

A fire started by lightning in the Umpqua National Forest about 26 miles north of Glide had grown to 400 acres Sunday evening. There were about 450 people working the blaze.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.