South Fork Complex Fire keeps growing

Local crews taking over other fires in Central Oregon

Local fire crews are taking over the fight of most wildfires still burning around Central Oregon, with one big exception.

The South Fork Complex Fire near John Day continued to grow Wednesday and is expected to keep growing today, said Bill Queen, spokesman for the interagency team managing the fire. The complex is made up of two fires, both sparked by lightning on July 31, that have burned a combined 39,531 acres. The burn area covers nearly 62 miles, almost twice as large as the city limits of Bend.

More than 530 firefighters are fighting the fire, which today is 25 percent contained. Winds Wednesday pushed the larger of the two fires, Queen said, causing it to expand by about 6,000 acres. More winds could be in the works this afternoon.

“I won’t be surprised if we see growth today similar to what we saw yesterday ,” he said.

The two fires in the South Fork Complex Fire flank the South Fork of the John Day River, Queen said. While still growing, the larger fire is moving away from the river and isn’t expected to spread across it.

The fires are burning on a mix of private and public land, including lands managed by the state, Malheur National Forest, and the Prineville District of the Bureau of Land Management.

Firefighters have not targeted a date for containment of the South Fork Complex Fire.

“It’s just still too active to put a finger on (containment) yet,” Queen said.

— Dylan J. Darling

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