Holiday weekend accompanied by fires

Small incidents across region

By Tyler Leeds / The Bulletin

Published Jul 7, 2014 at 12:01AM

The region’s fire agencies stayed busy this Fourth of July weekend, handling a series of small fires across Central Oregon, and crews are bracing for more of the same during what is expected to be a hot and dry upcoming week.

Among the fires was a half-acre blaze four miles southeast of Sisters, which Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Spokeswoman Kassidy Kern said crews made quick work of putting out. The Kipuka Fire, which burned a 26-acre area surrounded by lava rock in the Newberry National Monument, finished burning Saturday, though smoke may be visible throughout the week. That fire, which Kern said was naturally contained by the lava rock upon being ignited, was one of more than a dozen small fires sparked by the 3,000 lightning strikes the region experienced last week.

Elsewhere, a small grass fire was contained in Madras Sunday near the intersection of U.S. Highway 97 and J Street. Structure fires also kept crews busy: Near Sunriver, a house burned on Covina Road, displacing a family and their cats. The American Red Cross has provided lodging, food and health services following the fire.

“It’s going to be hot and dry again next week, and we’re right in the middle of fire season, so people can expect to see more smoke in the air,” Kern said. “Given the conditions, it’s so critical that we eliminate the human element. People need to make sure they extinguish their campfires, checking to see that it’s dead out, and to make sure cigarettes are out, too. There are things we can control and we have to do our best to control them. As the lightning showed, there’s a natural element, too, so we have to take control of what we can.”

On Saturday afternoon, COID announced the 3,000-acre Camp Creek Fire was 100 percent contained after igniting Thursday on rangeland near Antelope. However, the 60-acre Algoma fire continued to burn Sunday on private land near U.S. Highway 97 six miles north of Klamath Falls.

“It’s looking good, we’re focused on getting mop up on and having containment all the way around,” said South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership Spokeswoman Cindy Nolan, adding that the fire is 70 percent contained.

A small evacuation order issued when the fire broke out has since been lifted, Nolan said, noting that the 204-member crew expects to experience tough conditions again today as it attempts to fully contain the blaze.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, tleeds@bendbulletin.com