Where There's Smoke | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Where There's Smoke

Bend got its first wildfire smoke of the year from a fire to the west, while a fire to the south destroyed over 80 buildings

The Bedrock Fire in the Willamette National Forest sent smoke toward Bend on July 24, with air quality being listed as unhealthy by the Environmental Protection Agency. The air quality improved at times but continued to be considered unhealthy for sensitive groups into the next day.

click to enlarge Where There's Smoke
Courtesy of Inciweb
An actual photo of the Bedrock Fire in the Willamette National Forest.

The Bedrock Fire ignited on July 22, though it's unknown what caused it. By July 25 it raged on almost 5,000 acres halfway between Bend and Eugene. Gusty wind caused the quick growth of the fire to the east and north. The fire remains 0% contained, and the 155 personnel assigned to the fire are scouting for indirect line locations where they can stop the fire. No evacuation notices have been issued, but the Northwest Incident Management Team 13 advised people to be vigilant of notices through the Lane County Sheriff's Office.

In Klamath County, the Golden Fire has already destroyed 43 homes and 43 outbuildings. That fire also started on July 25, and is currently over 2,000 acres and is 9% contained, according to the Oregon State Fire Marshall. Gov. Tina Kotek invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to mobilize additional resources and staff to stall the fire.

"The Golden Fire has been growing rapidly due to the dry, windy conditions in Klamath County," said Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. "With the continued hot, dry conditions on the way for Klamath County, the OSFM is mobilizing additional resources through the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS) to help the local fire service agencies on scene."

The Oregon Department of Forestry declared that fire season started on June 6 in Central Oregon, raising fire danger levels. It also bans fireworks on ODF-protected land, debris burning the use of certain types of ammunition. Oregon's above-average snowpack helped delay fire season, which typically begins in May and runs through September.

Title: Central Oregon Braces for Fire Season Amidst Drought Conditions: How to Prepare and Stay Safe

Subheadline: Central Oregon Gears Up for Challenging Fire Season Amidst Severe Drought: How to Safeguard Lives and Homes

By ChatGPT

click to enlarge Where There's Smoke
Courtesy of Fotor AI Image Generator
AI art generator prompt used: A wildfire burning at the edges of a city in the Pacific Northwest

Editor's note: Because fire season has just begun, and because much of the information about safety during fire season is "evergreen," we took this opportunity, during our AI issue, to bust out a ChatGPT news story about fire season 2023. We've retained the prompts and the various text elements that ChatGPT generated just to let readers see what happens when you generate news this way. But because ChatGPT can't generate news about new items that are currently breaking, this story is accompanied by a "real" news story about the current fires affecting Central Oregon.

Prompt: Write a roughly 500-word news article about the beginning of fire season in Central Oregon and how people should prepare.

Title: Central Oregon Braces for Fire Season Amidst Drought Conditions: How to Prepare and Stay Safe

Central Oregon, [Date] - As the summer temperatures rise, the vast wilderness of Central Oregon is once again facing the looming threat of fire season. With the region experiencing drought conditions and dry vegetation, authorities are urging residents and visitors to take proactive measures to prepare for potential wildfires and ensure their safety.

Drought Conditions Escalate Fire Risks:

The arrival of fire season in Central Oregon comes at a time when drought conditions have escalated across the state. The lack of significant rainfall has rendered vegetation tinder-dry, creating the perfect environment for wildfires to ignite and spread rapidly. Combined with high temperatures and occasional strong winds, even the smallest spark can turn into a devastating inferno.

Emergency Services on High Alert:

Central Oregon's fire and emergency services are already on high alert as they brace for the challenges that lie ahead. Firefighters and first responders have been conducting training exercises and simulations to sharpen their skills and respond swiftly to any fire outbreaks.

However, authorities emphasize that firefighting efforts alone cannot combat the threat posed by wildfires. The community must come together to prepare, prevent, and mitigate fire risks in order to safeguard lives, properties, and the pristine environment.

Preparation is Key:

In the face of the impending fire season, residents and visitors are urged to take the following steps to prepare:

  1. Create Defensible Space: Clear vegetation and debris from around homes and structures, creating a defensible space of at least 30 feet. This minimizes the risk of a fire reaching your property.
  2. Trim Trees and Shrubs: Trim branches and shrubs within 15 feet of buildings to prevent fire from easily spreading from ground level to the tree canopy.
  3. Dispose of Yard Waste Properly: Avoid burning yard waste during fire season. Instead, use local waste disposal services or composting facilities.
  4. Check Smoke Alarms: Ensure smoke alarms are in working order and have fresh batteries. Smoke alarms are critical in providing early warning in the event of a fire.
  5. Create an Evacuation Plan: Develop and practice an evacuation plan with all household members. Know multiple escape routes and have a designated meeting place.
  6. Pack an Emergency Kit: Prepare a 72-hour emergency kit containing essential supplies like food, water, medications, first aid items, and important documents.
  7. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and fire updates. Stay informed about evacuation orders and community alerts.
  8. Be Cautious with Fire: If permitted, use campfires and outdoor grills responsibly. Always fully extinguish fires before leaving the area.
  9. Vehicle Maintenance: Regularly inspect vehicles for potential fire hazards, such as dragging chains or faulty exhaust systems.
  10. Report Fires Immediately: If you spot a wildfire or signs of smoke, report it immediately to the local fire department or emergency services.

Community Efforts:

Preparation and prevention extend beyond individual actions. Local communities can work together to establish Firewise communities, where residents collaborate to reduce fire risks collectively. This involves organizing community cleanup events, sharing resources, and fostering awareness about fire safety.


As Central Oregon enters fire season amidst drought conditions, preparedness and vigilance are paramount. By taking proactive measures and being responsible stewards of the environment, residents and visitors can contribute to minimizing the potential devastation caused by wildfires. Remember, every action counts when it comes to preserving lives, property, and the breathtaking natural beauty of Central Oregon.

About The Authors

Jack Harvel

Jack is originally from Kansas City, Missouri and has been making his way west since graduating from the University of Missouri, working a year and a half in Northeast Colorado before moving to Bend in the Spring of 2021. When not reporting he’s either playing folk songs (poorly) or grand strategy video games,...
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