Air tankers kept bombarding the southern end of the Green Ridge Fire with retardant northwest of Sisters Tuesday as the lightning-sparked fire stayed active on another warm day, growing to 550 acres but holding at 30 percent containment, officials said.
The number of firefighters on the blaze, 14 miles northwest of Sisters, has grown to 452, according to Tuesday morning's update from the Nor Cal Interagency Incident Management Team 1. If all goes well, crews hope to have the fire fully contained by Saturday.
But there was more trouble Tuesday on the southeast corner of the fire, with crews chasing and confining spot fires, aided by the air tankers and helicopters.
Elsewhere, there was something of an ironic situation -- no new fire starts reported to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville -- on one of the smokiest days for much of the area in months -- not from Green Ridge, but due to smoke blowing in from major southwest Oregon blazes that claimed a firefighter's life.
The Green Ridge firefighting force includes 13 hand crews, a half-dozen helicopters, 18 engines, five bulldozers and 10 water tankers, along with air tankers flying from Redmond.
Fire managers said more hot, dry and unstable weather is likely to keep the fire active, as well as put out more smoke.
Officials said crews were focusing Tuesday on building lines along the southern and southeast edge of the fire, while mopping up the northern half, dousing anything burning near the lines.
Nearly 100 people attended Monday evening's public meeting in Camp Sherman to learn the latest about the blaze. Officials say another such session is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 p.m. at the Camp Sherman Fire Hall.
The fire also now has an InciWeb page for information at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3594/
Several other small fires in the area were declared controlled Monday and are no longer being staffed, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville.
But the work is far from over, with warm and dry weather expected to continue and unstable conditions as well, with thunderstorms possible later in the week.
Smokejumpers, supported by a Type 1 helicopter, responded to a small new fire on Black Crater in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area Sunday afternoon. The lightning-sparked fire was about a half-acre in size, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center reported Monday.
Meanwhile, a lightning-sparked fire on BLM land about 12 miles south of Brothers held at 31 acres overnight, having burned through juniper, grass and sagebrush. Midstate Electric Co-op power lines are threatened by the fire, Incident 492, officials said, and there is no estimate on containment. Six engines, three water tenders and a bulldozer were assigned to it.
Midstate Electric spokeswoman Teresa Lackey said Monday those lines are de-energized and are only used as backup for the utility's system.
Four engine crews were on scene Sunday to fight the fire, while retardant was dropped by several Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) planes, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville.
Another lightning-sparked fire that broke out Sunday afternoon burned about 1 ½ acres near Summit Lake on the Deschutes National Forest and was fought by an engine crew with the help of smokejumpers.
On the Green Ridge Fire, a firefighter who suffered a medical condition was brought off the lines Sunday and taken to St. Charles-Bend. then treated and released.
Emergency road closures put in place Friday remain in effect around the Green Ridge Fire, officials said. That includes closure of three campgrounds for public safety along the lower Metolius River – Lower Bridge, Pioneer Ford and Allen Springs.
To keep the public informed about the Green Ridge Fire, information bulletin boards have been placed at the Camp Sherman Store and in Sisters at Barclay Square, Ray's Market and the Sisters Ranger District office.
The area closure on Friday included several roads, trails, three campgrounds and the Wizard Falls Fish Hatchery.
Around the region, industrial fire restrictions are in place on public lands, as well as public use restrictions that prohibit campfires outside of designated campgrounds.
Meanwhile, to the west, the Willamette National Forest said Sunday crews had succeeded in staffing and putting out many of the 13 small fires found on that forest's side of the Three Sisters Wilderness after last Wednesday's lightning strikes.
Efforts on the Green Ridge Fire are being hampered by challenging terrain, from a 20 to 100 percent slope.
The area road closures can be viewed in detail at the following link: http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/centraloregon/fire/documents/20130802-greenridge_fire_forest_order_0601-05-13-001.pdf
The Deschutes National Forest issued this closure announcement Friday morning:
The Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest is implementing emergency fire closure to protect public and firefighter safety as crews continue to work on the Green Ridge Fire, near Camp Sherman.
Beginning Friday, the public will not be allowed in the closure area and on certain roads and trails around the perimeter of the area until the emergency closure is lifted.
The emergency closure includes the area defined by the roads listed and the roads themselves: