C. Oregon crews managing lightning-sparked fires

Meanwhile, prescribed burn takes place on Crooked R. Grassland

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Central Oregon Fire Management and the Ochoco National Forest are managing several lightning-caused fires this week, while a prescribed burn was under way Tuesday on the Crooked River National Grassland.

The Whiskey Springs Fire is located a mile east of Whiskey Springs on FS Road 27 and was started by lightning on Sept. 5. The fire is located in the Hash Rock Fire scar, which burned in 2000. 

There are numerous fire-killed snags in the area, making it unsafe for firefighters to engage directly, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center said Tuesday.

The fire is currently one acre in size and is smoldering in heavy dead and downed fuels from the old fire. 

The fire is expected to continue to smoke and occasionally flare up until the area receives rain or snow. 

Crews have identified containment opportunities outside of the old fire area and are taking actions to ensure the fire remains contained within the identified area.  

‘Fire Activity Ahead' signs are posted along the 27 road as travelers approach the fire.  While the 27 road remains open to the public, drivers are urged to use caution while traveling through the area.

The Sam Davis Fire is located a mile east of Toggle Meadows south of FS Road 12 and was started by lightning on Sept. 7.

Given the time of year and favorable weather conditions, crews are using existing roads for containment opportunities and using drip torches and burn-out operations to secure established containment lines.  This strategy is allowing the fire to consume accumulations of hazardous fuels and minimizes risk to firefighters.

The fire is currently 200 acres in size, officials said. When completed later this week, the final perimeter is expected to be approximately 350 acres. While no formal closure is in place, the public is encouraged to avoid the fire area. 

Meanwhile, Ochoco National Forest fuels specialists were using prescribed fire to burn about 200 acres Tuesday on the east side of the Crooked River National Grassland within a project area known as "North Cyrus."

Ignitions began just before 10 a.m., officials said; an earlier planned burn last week was called off.

The North Cyrus project is located in between Highways 97 and 26, about 7 miles northeast of Terrebonne and 12 miles north/northeast of Redmond, just south of the Cyrus Horse Camp. 

In order to achieve the objectives of reducing hazardous densities of western juniper and improving wildlife forage and rangelands, fuels specialists need to burn under summer-like conditions.  Ample firefighting resources will be in place in order to accommodate burning under these conditions.     

No road closures are anticipated with this project. However, smoke will likely be highly visible from Redmond, Madras, Terrebonne, and Highways 97 and 26. 

If smoke drifts on to roads, motorists should slow down, turn on headlights, and proceed with care.  Once ignited, projects are monitored by firefighters until they are declared out.

Fuels specialists will follow policies outlined in the Oregon Department of Forestry smoke management plan, which governs prescribed fires, and attempts to minimize impacts to visibility and public health. For more information, visit the Ochoco/Deschutes website at www.fs.usda.gov/centraloregon

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