SISTERS, Ore. - (Update: Fire officials update Saturday firefighting efforts)
More than 400 firefighters on Saturday battled the lightning-sparked, 7,814-acre Milli Fire that began a week ago in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area, and despite progress, the evacuations of some 600 homes in the Crossroads area west of Sisters continued for a second day. A forest area closure also was expanded.
Here's the Saturday evening update on the Milli Fire, as well as the Belknap Fire northeast of Prineville:
Location of Origin: 9 miles west of Sisters, OR
Start date: August 11, 2017, 2:42 pm
Size: Approximately 7,814 acres
Percent Contained: 0%
Resources Assigned: More than 400 personnel
Vegetation: Higher elevation; Mixed conifers. Lower elevations; ponderosa pine, juniper trees, sagebrush
Firefighters today concentrated their efforts on the southeast side of the fire, where gusty winds and flying embers created spot fires and caused evacuations on Friday.
Crews completed successful burnout operations and hand crews tied a fire line across Whychus Creek into a dozer line created in the late evening/early morning hours. Crews have been working all day in areas with steep terrain and heavy fuels. Some late afternoon tree torching and the resulting smoke cloud hampered air operations for a time. Firefighters have worked hard to keep the fire from crossing Forest Road 16.
We are expecting more crews to arrive on scene tonight. About 100 firefighters will join the more than 400 personnel already in place. We are also bringing in more specialized apparatus to help get water resources to the line in inaccessible areas. Firefighters hope to take advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity, which should help operations; however, gusty winds will still be a challenge.
With the head of the Milli Fire continuing to move south and east, forest officials on Saturday expanded the area closure in place on the Sisters Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest due to increased fire activity.
The eastern edge of the area closure has bumped out to cover Forest Road 16 along the Sisters Ranger District boundary around the Peterson Ridge trail system, which will be closed to the public. The closure extends south along Forest Road 1605 as it becomes Forest Roads 4606 and 4605 traveling through private land and near the burn scar of the Two Bulls Fire that burned in 2014.
Forest Road 370 from Three Creeks to junction 4601 is closed, and will not include Tumalo Falls Trailhead, which remains open to the public. The area closure will include Three Creeks Lake, Three Creek Meadow and Park Meadows, which were closed Saturday morning when Forest Road 16 was closed due to fire activity and fire crews and heavy equipment working in the area.
The western boundary of the closure is similar to the previous area closure, with the addition of Three Sisters Wilderness trails into Camp Lake and Demaris Lake. The northern boundary of the closure along Highway 242 and north on Forest Roads 1030 and 1008 remains unchanged.
Deschutes National Forest, Sisters Ranger District closures include: Black Crater Trail #4058, Millican Crater Trail #4066, Scott Pass Trail #4068, North Matthieu Lake Trail #4062, Trout Creek Tie Trail #4067, Millian Crater Trailhead, Scott Pass Trailhead, Whispering Pines Campground, Trout Creek Swamp, Sisters Cow Camp, Chush Falls Trail #4080, Pole Creek Trail #4072 & Trailhead, Metolius Windigo Trail #99 from the Highway 242 crossing to the trail junction with the FSR 4601, Whychus Overlook Trail, Whychus Creek Trail, Demaris Lake Trail #4074.1, Camp Lake Trail #4074, Park Meadow Trail #4075 & Trailhead, Three Creek Lake Campgrounds and associated trails, Tam McArthur Rim Trailhead, Peterson Ridge Trail System.
The Pacific Crest Trail closure remains in place beginning at Elk Lake and extending to Highway 242. Hikers are encouraged to get a ride north to Britenbush Lake, or take public transit north toward Government Camp near Mt. Hood. See www.pcta.org.
The public is encouraged to KNOW BEFORE YOU GO by contacting the Sisters Ranger District office at 541-549-7700 if you plan to visit the area.
The Milli Fire is currently being managed by Southwest Area Incident Management Team 2
The Belknap Fire is currently 65 percent contained as crews continue to work toward 100 percent containment. Fire behavior is minimal and size is holding at 125 acres. The fire is located 20 miles northeast of Prineville in the Mill Creek Wilderness. Firefighters are working to confine the fire and mop up the interior. The Belknap Fire was sparked by lightning and reported on August 11 at 11:27 a.m.
Smoke monitoring information is available at: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com. Anyone concerned with the effects of smoke in the region or who has possible health concerns related to smoke can go to this site to see smoke monitoring data and get additional information.
For additional Milli Fire information call: 541-316-7711
Level 3 - The subdivisions of Crossroads, Edgington/Remuda roads, Wildwing, Peterson Burn Road Area, and along both sides of Three Creeks Lake Road (Forest Road 16) immediately south of Sisters.
Level 1 - The subdivision of Tollgate
OR242 east of Cascade Crest to the junction of Forest Road 15. For further information see www.tripcheck.com.
There is an area closure in place in the Deschutes National Forest, due to fire activity. For more information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/deschutes/alerts-notices
For the latest on these and other fires burning across Oregon, visit the InciWeb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/38/