Fire near Cultus Lake prompts campground evacuation order

Evacuation warning also up for Cultus Lake resort, Cultus Lake Campground

A wildfire west of Bend this afternoon prompted a level III evacuation order for a boat-in campground on the west side of Cultus Lake and level II evacuation warnings for Cultus Lake Resort and Cultus Lake Campground on the east side of the lake.

Along with West Cultus Lake Campground, the level III evacuation order covers the west and north shores of Cultus Lake, as well as the backcountry north of the lake, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. The backcountry level III evacuation order is for Corral Swamp and Winopee, Muskrat and Teddy lakes.

The Muskrat Fire was first spotted around 12:45 p.m. and is burning through heavy timber in the Deschutes National Forest about 2 miles northwest of Cultus Lake and a half mile northwest of Muskrat Lake, said officials at the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center. Firefighters originally estimated the fire at 200 acres but lowered the size this evening to 30 acres after observers from the air got a better view of the fire.

Earlier in the day smoke made the blaze difficult to size up, said Kassidy Kern, dispatch center spokeswoman.

“The fire area was pretty obstructed,” she said.

The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is in charge of issuing evacuation warnings and orders. A level I warning means be ready to evacuate; a level II warning means prepare to evacuate at a moment’s notice and a level III order means evacuate now.

Response to the fire included smokejumpers, air tankers and helicopters, as well as firefighters who hiked to the fire, which is in the Three Sisters Wilderness area.

Cause of the fire is under investigation.

— Dylan J. Darling