Friday, September 8, 2017

Did the rain help the wildfires in Oregon?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 4:39 PM

A firefighter examines the night back burn off of I-84 west of Cascade Locks. - INCIWEB.NWCG.GOV
  • A firefighter examines the night back burn off of I-84 west of Cascade Locks.

For the first time in weeks, rain poured down on Central Oregon this Thursday.

The hot and dry conditions over the last few months have fueled the outbreaks of over ten wildfires in Oregon and many more in Washington, Idaho and Montana, making this one of the worst wildfire seasons the western U.S. has ever seen, according to U.S. News and World Report. With more moisture in the air, almost all fires are estimated to be fully contained within the next month, according to The Oregonian.

The Milli Fire area likely received .03 to .10 inches of rain on Thursday, causing the fire closure area to reduce in size, according to an update from the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.

It is expected to burn out naturally around Oct. 1 once it runs west into the lava fields, but remains at 60 percent containment.

The area surrounding Black Butte Ranch and Cold Springs Campground along the northern border of the fire has now been reopened to the public. However, the western, southern and eastern border closures remain intact. You can find more information on forest closures here.

Highway 242 is closed west of Forest Road 430 to all vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles. Check road closures here. 

Meanwhile, the Eagle Creek Fire continues to threaten the Columbia River Gorge, but favorable weather conditions have allowed fire crews to make progress.

Relative humidity reached 100 percent in some areas as firefighters continue to work on structure protection, burnout operations and debris removal. Burnout operations will cause smokier conditions, but will help secure the fire line near the Bridge of the Gods.

Interstate 84 remains closed between Troutdale and Hood River because of road debris and the potential of falling rocks and trees, however, the U.S. coast-guard is reopening the Columbia River to commercial ships for night passage, according to fire crews.

The Office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal has reported the number of structures destroyed by the Eagle Creek Fire has grown to four. One structure was a full time occupied residence and the additional three structures were non-full time residences that were unoccupied. The Eagle Creek Fire is now 7 percent contained and has plateaued at 33,382-acres, according to an update from fire crews.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eagle Creek Fire continues to grow, Sen. Wyden presses Trump for wildfire funding

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 5:19 PM

In the wake of fires burning thousands of acres in Oregon alone, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) once again pressed the Trump administration to include a wildfire funding fix in any request to Congress for disaster aid. Currently, fire suppression efforts are sorely underfunded, he says, causing federal agencies to pull money from fire prevention efforts to fight fires — leaving us to repeat this cycle next year if the money is not coughed up in Washington.

What's happening with all those fires in Oregon today? Here's an update from fire crews Tuesday.

PDF Fire Briefing Map - Sept. 4, 2017
Nash Fire update:

Strong winds yesterday fanned the flames of the Nash and nearby Separation
Fires, which continued to burn overnight. The fire has burned the shoulder of The Wife peak and is close to burning to the Wickiup Plains just north of Elk Lake. Worrying that the fire could reach Elk Lake, firefighters are prepping to protect homes and other buildings by clearing out anything that may fuel the fire — like brush and litter — and installing pumps and sprinklers. If need be, firefighters are prepared to hold the fire on the west side of the Cascade Lakes Highway.

Evacuations: On Sept. 2, officials issued a Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notice
for the areas surrounding the Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake including Elk Lake
Resort, Elk Lake Guard Station, Elk Lake Campground(CG), Point CG, Mallard CG,
Sunset View Day Use area, Beach Day Use Area, and Quinn Meadow’s Horse Camp and a Level 1 (Ready) evacuation notice for the areas surrounding Lava Lake and
Little Lava Lake including Lava Lake Resort, Lava Lake CG, and Little Lava Lake

Current maps including the evacuation areas for the Nash Fire.

Trail closures are in place: Closed trails include: Wickiup Plains, South Sister/Devil’s Lake, Green Lakes, Sisters Mirror Lake, Elk Lake, and PCT from Irish and Taylor Lake north to Olallie Lake. PCT Trail Angels will be at Cultus Lake to help hikers.

More information on trail closures.

Milli Fire update:

Firefighters are putting out hot spots after containing the east, southeast and south flanks of the Milli Fire, but it is still pushing southwest to North Matthiue Lake. Fire officials are monitoring for hot spots at the Lava Camp campground area, but it the fire has been contained. Helicopters are making water drops in the area to put spot fires. 

Hwy 242 is still closed east of the Cascade Crest to the junction of Forest Road 15 due to debris and damage to the road. Clean-up and repairs are in the works and it won’t reopen until ODOT deems it safe for travel.

Evacuation Levels: For more information on evacuation levels, please contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office at 541-693-6911.

Current evacuation levels:

Level 1 – Crossroads subdivision, Edgington Road, Remuda Road, Peterson Burn Road, Wildwing and Three Creeks Road residences. Tollgate subdivision, all areas between OR 242 and US 20, west of Cold Springs Cutoff (Forest Road 1018) which includes Black Butte Ranch.

Eagle Creek Fire update:

The Eagle Creek Fire moved west on Monday as firefighters worked through the night to provide structure protection against the Eagle Creek Fire. In the early morning, the fire hopped across the Columbia River into Washington near Archer Mountain.


I-84 remains closed from Troutdale to Hood River due to rocks and rolling debris entering the roadway. Washington State Route 14 is open to passenger vehicle traffic, but closed to commercial vehicles. Commercial vehicles are being routed to Highway 26. You can find road closure updates for Oregon and Washington online.

Officials identified a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver, Wash. as a suspect in the cause of the fire. It is believed that he along with a few others shot fireworks off near Eagle Creek Trail, sparking the fire on Saturday. No arrests or formal charges have been made.

If you have any information on the cause of the fire, please contact the Oregon State Police at 503-375-3555.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Progress made on Milli Fire containment

Evacuation notices issued for Nash Fire

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2017 at 4:07 PM

Air quality in Bend continues to improve as of 3 pm Friday. - AQICN.ORG
  • AQICN.Org
  • Air quality in Bend continues to improve as of 3 pm Friday.
Milli Fire Update

Due to clear skies on Thursday, firefighters were able to fly over the Milli Fire to assess damage and figure out what to do next.

“Fire behavior consists mostly of creeping and smoldering with occasional single-tree torching,” according to a recent update from fire officials.

Thursday's mission had crews patrolling the perimeter of the fire as they mopped up the northern, southern and southeastern borders. The fire continues to burn down slope to the west as containment lines are strengthened to the east. For information on forest closures, visit the USDA website

OR 242 is likely to remain closed as crews remove hazard trees and make repairs.

Hot, dry weather over the next few days can lead to clearer skies, but air quality may vary depending on the behavior of several fires in the area. Some level 1 and 2 evacuations are still in effect for the Milli Fire.
Level 2 evacuations remain for the Crossroads subdivision, Edgington Road, Remuda Road, Peterson Burn Road, Wildwing and Three Creeks Road residences. Level 1 evacuations are affecting residents of the Tollgate subdivision, all areas between OR 242 and US 20 and west of Cold Springs Cutoff (Forest Road 1018) which includes Black Butte Ranch.

The only current road closure is OR 242, although Highway 20 continues to be backed up from the fires in that area. “The busy U.S. 20 corridor over Santiam Pass has been particularly affected by the fires,” according to an update from ODOT. A pilot car is being used to direct two-way traffic for 1.5 miles over the pass, causing traffic delays. Before planning a trip, check for further information.

“Since January, there have been close to 600 human-caused fires on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry,” according to the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). There continues to be a high fire risk heading into Labor Day weekend. ODF and Keep Oregon Green wnt remind visitors and locals to follow guidelines to prevent new fires from being started. These include following the campfire bans and restrictions, only operating motorized vehicles on established roads, checking vehicles for dragging tow chains that can send sparks into roadside vegetation and more. To check on fire restriction information visit the Oregon Department of Forestry website

Nash Fire Update

The fire started on Aug. 10 from lightning in the Willamette National Forest and has grown to 2,248 acres. Now, the Nash Fire threatens areas off of Cascade Lakes Highway.

A level 1 evacuation notice is in place for areas surrounding Lava Lake including Lava Lake Resort, Lava Lake Campground and Little Lava Lake Campground.

A level 2 evacuation notice is affecting areas surrounding Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake, including Elk Lake Resort, Elk Lake Campground, Point Campground, Little Fawn Campground, Mallard Marsh Campground, Sunset View Day Use Area, Beach Day Use Area and Quinn Meadows Horse Camp.

For information on emergency evacuation levels, check on the City of Bend website.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Gov. Kate Brown Declares Deschutes County Drought Emergency

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Deschutes County joins a growing list of Oregon counties—now 15 deep—designated by Gov. Kate Brown as drought emergencies following today's announcement. With today's addition of eight counties, nearly half the state is experiencing an official drought emergency. In addition to Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Morrow, Umatilla, and Wasco counties have been added.

“The majority of our state is parched due to the warm winter and lack of snow,” Gov. Brown said in a release. “As we move into summer, many areas of the state are going to dry out very quickly, likely leading to a difficult fire season as well as water shortages. We need our state, local and federal partners to be prepared as our communities grapple with hot and dry conditions.”

In an effort to drive home the seriousness of these conditions, Gov. Brown is launching the #ORdrought campaign, which she kicked off with the video below. In it, she stresses that while the situation is dire, meaningful changes can still be made.

"It may look green now, but we are going to experience one the worst droughts in the history of our state," she says in the video.
"But the script hasn't been written yet. By working together, we can begin to make a difference right now."

The drought declaration directs agencies such as the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Department of Water Resources, the Water Resources Commission, and the Office of Emergency Management to assist water users and the state in mitigating the impacts of the drought.

Follow #ORdrought on social media for more.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Washington Declares Drought Emergency—Is Oregon Next?

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 2:12 PM

Only one of these states has issued a drought emergency declaration. But they have a disturbingly similar snowpack.
  • Only one of these states has issued a drought emergency declaration. But they have a disturbingly similar snowpack.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency today, OPB reports. The emergency status was brought about by low snowpack. Insley said that while the state should have sufficient water for drinking, crops and fish may be threatened, and wild fires are an increased risk.

California has already declared a drought emergency. Is Oregon next?

A few counties have already received an emergency declaration from Gov. Kate Brown—Baker, Malheur, Harney, Lake, Klamath, Crook, and Wheeler. And others have requests one—Deschutes, Lane, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Wasco, Morrow, and Umatilla.

And a look at the Oregon Water Availability Committee's Water Supply Assessment shows that for most of the state's basins, drought is "inevitable," while in the remainder of the state drought is "likely."

Tell us what you think. Should Gov. Brown declare a statewide drought emergency? And if she does, how will that affect your water consumption? 
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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Traveling Camera: The Lakota

Christian Heeb photographs a young Lakota girl.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Ina, a Lakota girl was posing for me during a recent photo production in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Ina and her mom, Junal Gerlach, will be our featured models during our one week photo workshop in South Dakotas Indian Country next July. I have been documenting Native Americans for more than 25 years now. This girl turned out to be the best model I ever photographed there.

We used my friend Charly Juchler’s property where he hosts people from all over the world during his Indian cultural tours with Chante Etan Production. From his land you can see Mount Rushmore and Harney peak in the distance. For this image I put Ina against the setting sun, producing a nice back light for her. My assistant held a gold reflector that bounced back the sunlight into her pretty face. The red autumn leaves light up nicely due to the backlight. Then I just had to push the trigger.

We will hold a simple portrait photography class in Sisters on October the 8th with myself and photographer Robert Agli.

See more of Christian Heeb's work here.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Updated: Fire Closes Alder Springs Trailhead

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 5:39 PM

A 300-acre wildfire near Whychus Creek has closed the Alder Springs Trailhead near Crooked River Ranch. The Oregon Department of Forestry said the fire, which was spotted around 2 p.m. yesterday was burning east toward Crooked River Ranch and several private ranches. In addition to the trailhead, fire response teams have closed Road 6360 as they coordinate the response. Cause of the fire is still under investigation.


Update: Fire managers pegged the Alder Springs fire at roughly 650 acres yesterday evening with the flames reaching to within roughly 1/2 mile of the Deschutes River on the eastern boundary. According to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center, no structures have been lost as a result of the blaze, which is moving through a mix of grasslands, brush and timber. However, the fire continues to pose a threat to several ranches to the east as well as the Crooked River Ranch community.

It's worth noting that fire erupted just a matter of weeks after the Oregon Natural Desert Association announced its intention to ask Congress to designate more than 18,000 acres around the Alder Springs area as a federal wilderness. The proposal was met with strong opposition from neighbors, many of whom said that their primary concern was the ability to fight wildfire.


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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shadow Lake Fire Update: A short and sweet info video

Learn stuff from this fire video.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Hate reading? Check out the informative (and short, A.D.D. approved) video "A Look Back at the Shadow Lake Fire" on the ORFireInfo facebook page.

The Shadow Lake Fire (burning 15 miles NW of Sisters in the Mt. Washington Wilderness) is now 35% contained and with moisture-laden marine winds blowing out of the west fire crew personnel (now 663-people strong) predict that the worst is over. The McKenzie River National Scenic Trail and Clear Lake Resort expect to reopen this weekend.

photo: ORFireinfo/

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Firefighters Expect an "Extended" Battle Outside Sisters

Posted By on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 8:19 PM

It’s been several years since Sisters, a community that knows a thing or two about wildfire threats and evacuations, saw its last major conflagration. But that could change this week as the Shadow Lake Fire, which is burning about 15 miles west of town, grows. The fire spread more than a mile and a half on Tuesday under less than favorable firefighting conditions, growing by more than 800 acres to a total of roughly 5,500 acres.

Shadow Lake Operations Chief Mike Mataresse said firefighters are expecting an “extended” battle with the Shadow Lake fire that is burning primarily in the wilderness around Mt. Jefferson but also threatens the Big Lake Campground where firefighters have been digging lines and focusing suppression efforts recently. Mataresse and the incident management team addressed Sisters residents on Tuesday afternoon to update the community on the fire. While fire behavior remained stable early in the week, fire managers said they expected warm temperatures and winds out of the east to fan the flames. The fire has already prompted federal managers to close the Pacific Crest Trail at Santiam Pass.

There are roughly half a dozen other fires over 100 acres burning around Oregon. The biggest conflagration is the High Cascades Complex, the 100,00-plus acre fire burning primarily on the Warm Springs Reservation. That fire is now 70 percent contained. While residents and visitors are likely to see smoke plumes emanating from the area around Mt. Washington, the blaze is not expected to impact the Sisters Folk Festival, which is set for the coming weekend. “We do not expect any fire threat per se,” said Paul Ries, a public information officer working the fire. However, he said that it’s difficult to predict the possible impact of smoke as the winds shift.


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Monday, September 5, 2011

Oregon Fires Get Their Own Facebook Page

Stay connected.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 9:40 PM

See what the fires were up to this weekend. Make sure they weren't hanging out with Randy. Uggg...Randy.

If facebook doesn't answer all of your Shadow Lake Fire questions, consider attending the public meeting at Sisters Elementary on Tuesday, September 6t at 7 pm.

So y'all know, the Sisters Folk Festival reports that fire should not be an issue for the annual three-day festival, slated to kick-off on Friday, Sept. 9.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Breaking Fire Updates

Fires continue to rage, despite clear skies and cooler temps.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 1:17 AM

Fire officials have reopened Segment 1 of the Lower Deschutes, but it still doesn’t sound like going for a float would be a particularly good idea.

According to a report from the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center, the Razorback Fire (36,000 acres and counting. Part of the High Cascades Complex fire — the big-ass one that has consumed 76,000 acres) is still burning on both sides of the canyon (park your car at your own risk); there could still be hotspots, slow burns and scalding-hot rocks at the campsites; and helicopters will be flying overhead and scooping water for fire suppression. Sounds awesome. I think I’ll look elsewhere for recreation this weekend…

In other fire news: The Hancock Complex fire (near Clarno, in the North Central part of the state) is 80-percent contained but has consumed nearly 60,000 acres as of the middle of the day. Full containment is expected by 6pm tomorrow, Sept. 1.

A National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) and a Long Term Assessment Team was brought in to help deal with the Shadow Lake Fire located within the Mt. Washington Wilderness (15 miles west of Sisters). The wildfire has already burned through nearly 500 acres of wilderness land. Closed are FS Roads 1028 and 1030 west to the edge of the Pacific Crest Trail as well as a portion of the Dry Creek Trail (the PCT will remain open).

Fire crews responded to three new fires today, the largest of which is burning downed timber just east of Prineville.

Find a map and fire info here.

Check here for road conditions/closures.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fire Closes Deschutes River

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:04 PM

Boaters planning to launch on the Deschutes River for the Labor Day weekend may need to rethink their plans after a wildfire forced BLM officials to close the river to rafters and anglers on Tuesday afternoon.

The BLM announced today that it was closing the entire Segment 1 of the river from Warm Springs to Harpham Flat just upstream of Maupin after the Razorback Fire jumped the river near Redside on Saturday night and has covered 15 miles since then, burning north and east.

Late Tuesday, the BLM determined that due to fires the river was no longer safe for boaters or firefighters. The BLM is routing boaters who have already purchased a pass to Segment 2 below Maupin. No refunds are being offered and the river remains closed until further notice. 


In other fire-related news, the DEQ issued a health advisory for Central Oregon cities on Tuesday. The department urged residents to use caution as more smoke moves into the area. The department didn’t have immediate information on air quality, but noted that samples taken over the weekend showed that air in Bend had reached levels deemed to be “unhealthy” by DEQ. In Madras, particulate pollution reached levels more than double what is considered to be unhealthy over the weekend. The agency advised people in the most affected areas to avoid prolonged contact by remaining indoors and using air filtering systems and to avoid strenuous outdoor activity. Those with respiratory issues or otherwise sensitive immune systems should take additional precautions.

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