SISTERS — A fast-moving 60-acre fire spread late Saturday afternoon in the area around Rabbitbrush Drive east of Sisters.
The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office issued a Level 3 — Go Now — evacuation ordering residents to immediately leave an area south of Cascades Estates Drive, north of Highway 20 and west of Fryrear Road. The order was issued shortly after the first reports of the fire reached the sheriff’s office at about 4:30 p.m.
An area resident said three houses were burned.
The evacuation level was later reduced to Level 1 for homes off of Sagebrush Lane. Public safety officials have instructed residents of this area to be prepared to evacuate if needed. As of 11:30 p.m. Saturday, a Level 3 evacuation order remained in effect for areas west of the 17900 block of Cascade Estates Drive and those off of Rock Island Lane.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter for those affected by the fire. It is located at FivePine Conference Center at 1021 East Desperado Trail in Sisters.
The fire started near GB Stables, where helicopters were dipping buckets into an irrigation pond for aerial drops. The stables are home to 23 horses, which were all evacuated.
Fire crews were on the scene, with reinforcements on their way, officials said.
“We have four aerial tankers, two hand crews, fire engines, two water tenders and a bulldozer on the way to assist,” said Lisa Clark, spokeswoman for the state fire dispatch center.
Two of the tankers are large — “heavy” — aircraft. Two are smaller single-engine aircraft. In a photo released via Twitter by Central Oregon Fire, the heavy aircraft appeared to be converted versions of a twin-propeller Convair 580 and a four-jet Avro RJ-85.
The Oregon Department of Transportation said U.S. Highway 20 east of sisters at milepost 5.9 near Cascade Estates was closed shortly before 5 p.m.
Motorists have been asked to avoid the area.
Deschutes County sheriff’s Sgt. William Bailey said at 6 p.m. officials did not have any information yet on potential injuries or damage to structures.
“We’re calling in a lot of resources,” Bailey said. He said a search and rescue team was being dispatched to the scene.
The Crooked River Ranch Fire and Rescue tweeted: “Smoke from the fire in the Cloverdale area is visible to the SW of CRR. Resources from around Central Oregon are on scene at this time. There is NO threat to CRR.”
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