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More heat, stronger winds fan Central Oregon fires; smokejumpers called in

by KTVZ-TV (Bend, Ore.) staff reports |

BEND, Ore. – Gusty winds and heat increased fire behavior Tuesday on several lightning-sparked blazes across Central Oregon, two of which grew quickly to cover hundreds of acres near Camp Sherman and on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

The Green Ridge Fire, two miles northeast of Camp Sherman on the Deschutes National Forest, was estimated at 500 acres late Tuesday.

Officials said in a Tuesday night update that the fire "saw tremendous growth today as wind pushed it east onto private land protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.”

Aerial resources assisted by cooling hot spots and laying down retardant to slow the progression of the fire, which remained 5 percent contained late Tuesday.

Crews worked late into the night, taking advantage of more moderate fire conditions to build lines with bulldozers and interagency hotshot crews.

Crews were working to construct and improve fire lines across the fire, including bulldozer crews who were working through the night to put in direct fire line on the east flank of the fire to prevent further fire spread onto private land. They also will be patrolling for spot fires in the area.

A Type 2 Incident Management Team took command of the fire at 6 a.m. Wednesday, which brought in additional resources to help contain the fire.

Smokejumpers and a hand crew from the Willamette National Forest continued to work on the Lily Fire northeast of Lily Lake in the Charlton Roadless Area on the Deschutes National Forest.

The fire continued to burn through the 1996 Charlton Fire scar and into nearby heavy timber, growing to the north and east, and was estimated Tuesday night to be 30 acres and 10 percent contained.

The heel of the fire is within 100 feet of the Pacific Crest Trail and Willamette and Deschutes national forest officials have worked together with the Pacific Crest Trail Association to monitor and address the situation by looking at closures and trail reroutes. Officials expected the closures would be put into place Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Frog Fire in the Maury Mountains on the Ochoco National Forest east of Prineville is now estimated to be 40 acres with no containment.

A spot fire that started Monday night grew together with the main fire during the day, though fire behavior was somewhat moderated by the assistance of a heavy helicopter cooling hot spots while crews continued to construct fire line.

Steep terrain remains a challenge on the north side of the fire, burning in thick timber. Crews were working late into the night to begin prepping for a possible burnout operation in the next few days, if conditions are favorable.

A Type 3 Incident Management Team was expected to take command of the fire Wednesday.

But the Green Ridge Fire was not the region’s largest as of late Tuesday. On the southwest portion of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, the P-515 Fire grew to about 772 acres, burning in terrain that includes steep slopes, brush and dense timber, officials said.

Elsewhere on the reservation, the Lion’s Head Fire grew to about 144 acres, in thick, brushy fuels and on several steep slopes. A third active fire, the Quartz Butte Fire, was at about 27 acres. Bulldozer crews were able to complete a line around the fire perimeter.

Eighty to 100 firefighters were working on the blazes.