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Few new smoke reports as fire crews battle on

Whychus Fire now 80 percent contained

REDMOND, Ore. - (Update: Monday evening report on fire progress)

The Central Oregon Dispatch Center received several reports of smoke on Monday, but only one new fire that burned 3/4 of an acre, about 4 1/2 miles northeast of Crane Prairie Reservoir.

Some people were getting their first view in clearing skies of the Milli Fire, burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness, which had burned 150 acres and was 2 percent contained. The acreage decreased from Monday morning due to improved mapping.

This fire was 8 miles west of Sisters and about 1 1/2 miles southwest of Black Crater Lake. There was moderate fire behavior Monday while crews used minimum impact suppression tactics (MIST tactics) within the wilderness.

Outside the wilderness, equipment is being utilized to construct contingency lines and improve forest service roads in anticipation of fire growth to the east.

For up-to-date information on closures on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and trail reroute options, visit https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/trail-conditions-and-closures/.  The following areas are temporarily closed for public safety:

·         Forest Road 1018 is closed from Highway 242 to Forest Road 15.

·         Forest Road 1520 is closed from Forest Road 1018 to Forest Road 15. 

·         The Millican Crater Trailheads located at Lava Camp Lake and Forest Road 1024 are closed. 

·         The Scott Pass Trailhead located on Forest Road 1026 is closed.  Black Crater Trailhead located off Highway 242 is closed. 

·         Whispering Pine campground located at the junction of Forest Road 1018 and 1520 is closed.

The Whychus Fire, about 8 miles northeast of Sisters, was at 2,030 acres and 80 percent contained late Monday. While there was no fire growth Monday, resources on the fire observed interior burning and continued mopping up.

The Belknap Fire, located in the Mill Creek Wilderness on the Ochoco National Forest, was at 120 acres and zero percent contained late Monday. Three hand crews were arriving on the fire to assist smokejumpers and other resources.

For more information, follow http://centralorfireinfo.blogspot.com/ or on Twitter at @CentralORFire

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Earlier story:

Dozens of fires were sparked by lightning from thunderstorms that rumbled through the area Thursday evening, and while many were stopped at small size, some of the largest kept crews busy Friday.

Crews from BLM, the Forest Service and the city of Bend worked to mop up a 19.5-acre fire east of Bend off McGrath Road near the city's wastewater treatment plant on McGrath Road.

Incident Commander Trainee Alison Dean said they're keeping a close eye on the fire.

"Given that it's in flashy fuels, all this cheatgrass that burns very quickly, as well as junipers that tend to ignite and throw sparks into the fuels, it is of pretty high concern," she said.

Officials at the wastewater treatment plant said the fire has not affected operations. 

And officials are asking you to be especially careful during this hot weather,

"Even though this was a lightning strike, most of the fires before this storm yesterday have been human-caused, cigarettes dropped and or shooting Tannerite or people shooting at ranges," Dean said. "In these fuels right now, one spark will give us 10,000 acres." 

The largest start on federally managed ground was the Whychus Fire, about 8 miles northeast of Sisters in the Deschutes National Forest. The fire was mapped at 34.5 acres, burning in brush and timber near the intersection of Forest Roads 63 and 6360.

Crews worked throughout the night and completely surrounded the fire with both hand and bulldozer lines, officials said. Firefighters remained on-scene Friday to secure the perimeter and begin mopping up.

Federal crews were also assisting with another new fire start on private ground just south of Antelope. The fire was estimated Friday afternoon at 12,500 acres, burning in grassy fuels about 10 miles southwest of Clarno.

 

New fire restrictions took effect Friday for all Forest Service and BLM lands across Central Oregon, to include a complete campfire ban and an Industrial Fire Precaution Level IV. A similar campfire ban also took effect on private lands in the region.

 

Winds also pushed thick smoke into the Bend area and other communities on Saturday and Sunday, from new and old fires near and far.

That smoke also made for some of the worst air quality the High Desert has seen so far - at "unhealthy" levels in Sisters and moderate or unhealthy for sensitive groups in Bend, Redmond and Madras, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Index map. Things were a bit better after Sunday morning's rain and better still later in the day, as temperatures cooled and wind blew out more of the smoke.

All Forest Service and BLM lands entered a complete campfire ban Friday, as did private lands, and that will continue as long as current fuel and weather conditions remain.


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