A growing army of over 1,200 firefighters kept at it Saturday, battling the fast-growing Buzzard Complex group of fires that have now raced across nearly 369,000 acres of rangeland this week, amid word that livestock have died from the fast-moving flames.
The fire's growth has included burnout operations to stop the advancing flames, one of which on Thursday shut a 30-mile stretch (mileposts 39 - 69) of state Highway 78, which was open again Friday.
Saturday morning's update indicated an inversion actually reduced the fire's growth Friday -- and the higher acreage reported Saturday was due to more accurate mapping.
"Fire activity resulted in an unknown number of livestock being fatally injured," the Saturday morning update stated at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3951/
However, officials warned that an active fire with large equipment remained in the area, and roads could be closed intermittently due to smoke, so drivers should use caution and have their headlights on.
The lightning-sparked fires, about 45 miles northeast of Burns, were still at 20 percent contained as of Saturday, with the acreage figure at 368,961 and 1,211 firefighters working on the blazes.
Residents in the Crowley Riverside Road area were under a Level 1 (get ready) pre-evacuation notice.
Officials said good progress was made Thursday on establishing anchor points, using direct and indirect tactics and protecting community infrastructure, according to Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4.
At least two fires have merged in the southern part of the complex, spreading several miles east toward the Crowley-Riverside Road/Dowell Reservoir area. In the northern portion of the complex, more fires merged together and spread south toward Crane-Venator Lane and east toward the sparse community of Riverside.
Difficult terrain, combined with extremely dry fuels and hot and windy conditions gave firefighters a steady challenge. Livestock, private property, several ranches, outbuildings, sage grouse habitat and agriculture lands were threatened throughout the day. At last report, one barn was lost.
Heavy air tankers, single engine air tankers, helicopters, fire engines, hand crews, bull dozers and other equipment were on scene all day and will work around the clock to protect residences and limit fire spread as much as possible.
The firefighter base camp and incident command post is located at the Crane High School.
More details at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3951/