Smoke pours into Central Oregon

The Deception Complex wildfires near Oakridge exploded late Wednesday


Published Aug 28, 2014 at 12:01AM / Updated Aug 28, 2014 at 06:18AM

Winds blew smoke from wildfires near Oakridge over the Cascades into Central Oregon on Wednesday night.

Smoke from a series of fires called the Deception Complex filled the western sky in Bend near sundown, turning the sunset blood red.

The Central Oregon Intergency Dispatch Center received a flurry of calls about the smoke, a dispatcher at the center in Prineville said. She said there wasn’t a wildfire burning close to Bend.

As temperatures dropped Wednesday night, the smoke was likely to settle in and blanket Central Oregon, she said.

Started by lightning Aug. 12, the Deception Complex is burning about two miles west of Oakridge, which is about 50 miles east of Eugene. The fire became very active Wednesday, according to Judith McHugh, spokeswoman for the Willamette National Forest, prompting evacuation warnings in Westfir.

A pair of fires in the complex near Westfir blew up on Wednesday, spreading past their containment lines, she said. Firefighters are bracing for similar fire behavior today, which could lead to more smoke in Central Oregon.

As of Wednesday morning the half-dozen fires in the complex had burned a total of 851 acres and were 53 percent contained, according to fire officials. McHugh said they wouldn’t know new numbers until this morning.

The Deception Complex fires are burning in old-growth timber, McHugh said.

“Old-growth fires put off a lot of smoke,” she said.

— Dylan J. Darling, The Bulletin