A wildfire that may have been caused by an out-of-control campfire kept authorities busy Friday along U.S. Highway 26, between Warm Springs and Madras.
At 2:32 p.m. Friday, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office received a phone call about a fire near Rainbow Market, by the eastern bank of the Deschutes River. Dalton Smith, dispatcher for the sheriff’s office, said the fire began behind the market, by an abandoned service station near the edge of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.
A Facebook post from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office notes the fire was human-caused.
The post notes that the sheriff’s office is investigating the possibility a man, who may have passed out near a campfire, could be responsible for the fire. The individual was pulled to safety by a friend and transported to St. Charles Madras with burns, according to the sheriff’s office.
Lisa Clark, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Land Management’s Prineville office, said the fire had burned about 150 acres as of 5:45 p.m.
The fire is one of about 50 fires so far this year on Central Oregon’s federally managed land, although most have been relatively small, according to Clark.
The Hammer Fire, in the Maury Mountains south of Prineville, had burned about 125 acres in the Ochoco National Forest by Friday evening. The fire was discovered Wednesday afternoon along Forest Road 16 near the Hammer Creek trailhead.
Clark said the fire outside Warm Springs spread south and east after ignition, traveling up a nearby hill to the rim of the canyon. Multiple agencies battled the fire on the rim, with help from several local farmers, according to the sheriff’s office.
The fire briefly closed Highway 26 for those traveling west, but the highway reopened, according to Smith. No homes or structures were threatened by the blaze, but Mecca Flats campground was evacuated as a precaution, according to Clark. She added that about a half-dozen vehicles left the area during the evacuation
Clark added that BLM and Jefferson County are in joint command of the fire response. The BLM ordered a helicopter and brought in two fire engines, along with two additional firefighters, to contain the blaze. Smith added that Jefferson County has brought in five fire engines to respond to the burn.
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