Bulletin staff report
The Pole Creek Fire, which burned nearly 27,000 acres in the Deschutes National Forest, probably began with a lightning strike, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The fire, discovered Sept. 9 near the Pole Creek Trailhead southwest of Sisters, probably started with a small, isolated thunderstorm late the day before, according to a statement Tuesday from the Forest Service. Investigators drew on evidence at the site, eyewitness interviews and the elimination of other possible causes.
The investigating team found trees at the site of origin that showed signs of lightning strikes, according to the Forest Service. A large fir tree at the site of origin, burned and broken at the base, was burned out inside, according to the news release. Also, eyewitnesses, video and other evidence gave weight to the presence of a thunderstorm.
Investigators ruled out the possibility that an August thunderstorm produced a lightning strike that smoldered until erupting into the Pole Creek Fire a month later.