Warm Springs

9,500-acre Logging Unit Fires spark evacuation alert

More than 50 homes on Warm Springs Reservation

Logging Unit Fires raise evacuation levels

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. - The Logging Unit Fires is a newly established and jointly managed group of nine fires on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, one of which is threatening dozens of homes.

"We still have two fires, the Camas Prairie Fire and the Bear Butte 2 Fire. Those two are still a large threat to resources," Incident Commander, Chris Schelte said Monday. "Still a very high potential that they could get out and could give us problems."

The Camas Prairie Fire is at over 5,000 acres, and because it is only 3 1/2 miles from the closest structure, officials issued Level 2 evacuation notices for 54 houses in the Sidwalters area. That means be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

 "The Camas Fire is pointed right at a housing area, and it's at the Sidwalter Buttes area," Schelte said.

Their biggest concern is the type of fuels.

"Is this cheatgrass component. And it burns very fast, especially with a little bit of wind behind you, and it can really outpace you," Public Information's Officer Jim Whittington said.

Still, officials remain optimistic about the progress on the fires.

"We think we've done a good job at stopping the forward momentum of the fire," said Whittington.

As they are setting up their new incident command center, they are getting a lot more helping hands. They had just 200 firefighters on the weekend, and now they have 800.

They established several so called trigger points. If the flames cross a trigger point, they reevaluate the situation and might increase the evacuation level notices.

"It bumped the 200 road last night, which is one of our trigger points. It didn't get across it and it didn't establish any active fires across it," Schelte said.

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