News

Cinder Butte Fire remapped at about 52,000 acres

9 percent contained; Whitewater Fire 4,600 acres

Cinder Butte fire continues to grow

HAMPTON, Ore. - (Update: Wildfire east of Hampton reduced to 52,223 acres in mapping; new udpate)

The Cinder Butte Fire east of Hampton was reduced by new mapping to 52,223 acres on Friday as crews continued to work to build and improve fireline, officials said.

The fire is 9 percent contained, with 200 personnel, according to the fire's InciWeb page.

Here's the update from Friday afternoon:

Incident Summary: The Cinder Butte Fire is currently burning approximately ten miles west southwest of the town of Riley, Oregon, in sage-steppe, sagebrush with pockets of juniper. The fire was reported to have started at approximately 12:55 pm on August 2, 2017. The fire is burning south of highway 20 and west of highway 395. The fire has been challenging for fire resources due to steep terrain poor roads and limited accessibility to the fire lines.

Todays Action: Public and firefighter safety will continue to be the top priority. Other priority is to continue to work with our partners; federal, state, local and the Rangeland Fire Protection Associations to hold the fire from crossing major roads protecting structures. Firefighters will build direct and indirect firelines around the south, east and southwest perimeters of the fire using dozers and hand lines. They will also strengthen and improve dozer line along the eastern edge of the fire and connect it to the existing lines and roads. Firefighters will patrol the northern area of the fire ensuring existing fire line is extinguished.

There is one helicopter assigned to the fire as well as further air support based in Redmond as needed.

Weather Outlook:  100+ degree temps, 20-25 mph winds observed on incident today, single digit RH’s, and Haines of 5-6. These conditions are predicted to persist for the next couple days.

Closures: None

Evacuations: Approximately 10 homes near the fire remain in a level 1 evacuation

Resources at Risk: The fire is impacting residents, power lines, local livestock, and other properties. Currently the fire is moving towards the historic town of Wagontire. Also at risk to the east of this fire is the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Experimental Stations field station. 

Cooperating Agencies: Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, Oregon Department of Transportation, Harney County Sheriff’s Office Rangeland Fire Protection Associations (Riley/Silver Creek, Wagontire, Hampton)

Follow Central Oregon wildfire news at http://centralorfireinfo.blogspot.com/ and the latest on larger wildfires around Oregon at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/38/

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Earlier story:

About 400 firefighters fought flames and very hot temperatures Thursday, assisted by air tankers and helicopters as they tried to stop a wind-fanned wildfire that raced across 56,000 acres east of Hampton in less than a day.

The Cinder Butte Fire broke out Wednesday afternoon. initially closing, then slowing Highway 20 traffic 75 miles southeast of Bend for a time.

Four heavy air tankers and four single-engine air tankers (SEAT planes) were sent from Redmond Thursday morning, along with water-dropping helicopters.

Meanwhile, the Whitewater Fire burning in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness exploded in size once again, to 4,576 acres by Wednesday, having earlier crossed the wilderness boundary near the Whitewater Trail, fueled by extreme heat, strong east winds and low humidity, officials said.

The Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center said the fire near Glass Buttes, dubbed the Cinder Butte Fire, had grown to about 5,000 acres by early Wednesday evening and that estimate doubled by nightfall -- and mapping Thursday put it at 56,000 acres.

Crews worked through the night, which brought little in the way of cooling relief, with another hot, dry and windy day bringing more challenges, officials said.

Meanwhile, a new fire that broke out overnight on the Deschutes National Forest a mile northwest of Pringle Butte was stopped by crews early Thursday at 3.5 acres. Officials said the cause was under investigation.

The Cinder Butte fire was reported just after 1 p.m.Wednesday afternoon on the boundary between the Prineville and Burns BLM districts, about 16 miles east of Hampton. 

There is no estimate of containment, officials said in a Wednesday night update.

The fire early on jumped from the north side of Highway 20 to the south, according to Burns-area dispatchers.

Highway 20 was open, with a pilot car as needed, and officials said the fire was moving to the southeast, away from the highway.

There was word late Wednesday night that the wildfire had closed U.S. Highway 395 at the Christmas Valley Highway. 

Lisa Clark at Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center said Thursday morning the fire was getting close to Highway 395 but had not crossed it. The road reopened overnight, but Clark said that could change as the day progresses and fire behavior increases.

Clark also said the tiny town of Wagontire, along Highway 395 in Harney County, was evacuated due to the blaze.

In addition to engines and hand crews, firefighters were supported late Wednesday by four "heavy" air tankers and seven single-engine air tankers (SEAT planes) dropping retardant, along with a VLAT (very large air tanker) capable of drops up to 12,000 gallons.

The fire was burning in a mix of very dry grass, brush and juniper on both public and private land.

"High temperatures and very low relative humidity will remain in effect over Central Oregon for the next several days, contributing to continued extreme fire behavior and challenging fire suppression efforts," the update stated.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire Thursday.

Fire danger throughout Central Oregon remains extreme due to very dry fuel conditions and extremely high temperatures. Fire officials urged everyone to use extreme caution when out recreating on public lands.

Wildfire smoke is drifting into Central Oregon from the Whitewater Fire burning on the Willamette National Forest and from several large wildfires burning in British Columbia. As smoke settles in overnight, people with respiratory issues were encouraged to stay inside with windows closed if possible to minimize exposure to smoke. 

Clark said winds were pushing the fire through sagebrush and grass, crowning in juniper trees. The cause is under investigation, she said, but it's considered to be human-caused.

ODOT's TripCheck reported Highway 20 was closed for much of the afternoon about 15 miles east of Hampton, and urged travelers to use alternate routes.

ODOT spokesman Peter Murphy said eastbound traffic was stopped at milepost 76 and eastbound motorists at milepost 83 due to fire equipment on the road. The highway later reopened with a pilot car guiding traffic in alternate directions, and by 6 p.m. TripCheck was reporting no to minimum delays.

Meanwhile, high temperatures, low humidity fueled more major growth of the Whitewater Fire, 13 miles east of Detroit, increasing to 4,579 acres as it expanded primarily on the north and south flanks, officials said Wednesday.

The fire crossed the wilderness boundary at both Whitewater and Woodpecker creeks, and on the north reached the Breitenbush River within the Wilderness.

More than 200 firefighters were working to contain the blaze, concentrating on the western and southern flanks Wednesday, with more extreme fire behavior expected and the hottest temperatures of the week.

 An incident command post at the Hoodoo Ski Area is closed to non-fire traffic, officials said.

Road and Trail Closures-The fire team said its first priority is public and firefighter safety. The Willamette National Forest has closed all trail access points into Jefferson Park inside the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, including an 11-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail.

The following road and trail closures are currently in effect:

"              Whitewater Trail #3429 is closed from its origin to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail #2000.

"              Cheat Creek Trail #3441 is closed from its origin to the junction with the Triangulation Trail #3373.

"              Triangulation Trail #3373 is closed from its junction with trail #3374 (near Triangulation Peak) to the terminus at Whitewater Trail #3429.

"              Crag Trail #3364 from its origin to the terminus at the Triangulation Trail #3373.

"              Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) North of Woodpecker Trail (#3442) to Breitenbush Lake.

"              South Breitenbush Trail (#3375) East of Bear Point Trail (#3342) up to the PCT (#2000).

"              Forest Service Road 2243, Whitewater Rd. (at Highway 22) is closed to avoid conflicts with fire traffic.

It's one of several wildfires being battled by hundreds of firefighters around Oregon, Learn more at  https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/38/

In south-central Oregon, the Devils Lake Fire, five miles southeast of Bly, grew to 1,600 acres Wednesday. A Level 1 (Get Ready) evacuation notice was issued to some residents of Middle Fishhole Creek Road by Klamath County sheriff's deputies and fire personnel.

Meanwhile, Crater Lake National Park officials said Wednesday that due to potentially hazardous conditions created by the 1,400-acre Spruce Lake Fire, the following trails are closed to entry and use until further notice:

·         Pacific Crest Trail, from the intersection of Lightning Springs Trail north to Red Cone Camp

·         Bald Crater Loop Trail, from intersection of Pacific Crest Trail to Bert Creek Trail

·         Bert Creek Trail

This closure will remain in effect until further notice. Park officials said they will be monitoring this situation and will reopen these trails as soon as it is safe to do so.

The Spruce Lake Fire ignited by lightning on July 24 and is being managed collectively with the 1,241-acre Blanket Creek Fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. The fires are being managed with a full suppression strategy.  The trail closure is being implemented to reduce threats to public safety associated with fire activity and fire suppression operations. 


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