Fire Alert

Hotshots help corral fire west of Lake Billy Chinook

Wind still a factor, but fire due for containment Monday

CULVER, Ore. - About 35 firefighters, including a Prineville hotshot team, spent much of Memorial Day shoring up the lines around a 40-acre wildfire west of Lake Billy Chinook that broke out late Sunday afternoon, prompting the evacuation of holiday weekend campers in the area.

The Trail of Tears Fire, named for the property on which it broke out, burned near the intersection of Graham and Jordan roads, west of the Deschutes arm of Lake Billy Chinook. It broke out around 3:45 p.m. Sunday on private land and moved onto federal land, said Elaine Parrott, public information officer for Lake Chinook Fire & Rescue.

A 20-person hotshot team from Prineville and a five-person crew from the U.S. Forest Service's Sisters Ranger District assisted Lake Chinook crews on the scene Monday, dousing hot spots and securing the perimeter.

The fire was expected to be 100 percent contained Monday, as crews continued working to improve lines on the fire's north flank, Parrott said. Wind remained a factor as firefighters worked in an area of older juniper.

The Forest Service is assisting with the investigation into the cause of the fire, on which no injuries have been reported.

The fire burned near the area of last summer's roughly 150-acre, lightning-caused Geneva 14 Fire

Sunday's wildfire, plus a much smaller one northwest of La Pine, were more evidence that fire fuels are drying out and a long fire season could be at hand, like the one already faced in California, Arizona and Alaska in recent weeks.

The Trail of Tears Fire, fanned by winds from the west at 20-25 mph, blackened sagebrush, bitterbrush and juniper.

A total of about 20 firefighters were on scene Sunday from the department and mutual-aid support called in from the Crooked River Ranch Fire Department, Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 and U.S. Forest Service, Parrott said. Sheriff's deputies also assisted in the area

Travelers on Graham Road, Jordan Road or Lakeview Drive were asked to keep watch for emergency vehicles.

Meanwhile, firefighters who at first struggled with access got a line around a fire that burned about two acres Sunday south of the Fall River Fish Hatchery, south of Sunriver and northwest of La Pine, said Forest Service spokesman Patrick Lair.

The cause of that fire also was under investigation but was believed to be human-caused, with no recent lightning in the area, Lair said.

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