The Tumalo Creek Fire, the largest active fire in Central Oregon, spread to 10 acres as of Thursday night, keeping fire crews busy even as lightning strikes ignited five new fires in the region.

Firefighters had contained 25% of Tumalo Creek Fire on Thursday and were helped by a burst of strong rain just before sunset. Three hand crews, three engines six smokejumpers, four rappellers and a water tender are being used to attack the fire.

Oregonians are busy packing up their vehicles with plans to spend the long weekend biking, hiking and camping in the forests west of Bend.

The Labor Day weekend, the official end of summer, is expected to attract thousands of vacationers from around the state and beyond.

Field rangers have posted fire activity notices at the Flagline, North Fork and Mrazak trailheads, but no trails were closed as of Thursday night. Parts of Forest Road 370 have been closed, including the Forest Road 370/380 junction, the Forest Road 370 junction at Three Creek Lakes and the junction of forest roads 4601 and 370.

Thunderstorms in Central Oregon ignited five new wildfires Thursday, including three on Prineville BLM lands and two in the Deschutes National Forest. But the recent rains have helped keep ground cover moist, which is helpful in slowing the spread of wildfire.

“We had lots of lightning but not a lot of fires,” said Alex Robertson, fire and aviation staff officer for the Central Oregon Fire Management Service.

For the weekend, “we don’t expect explosive fire growth, but we can certainly have issues when we have multiple starts in locations all around Central Oregon. We still expect to pick up holdover fires from the lightning, too, so the combination of both lightning and human-caused fires can be troublesome,” Robertson said.

The forecast for Labor Day weekend calls for temperatures in the mid-80s and partly cloudy skies. When putting out campfires, travelers are advised by Central Oregon Fire Info website to “drown, stir, feel and repeat until you can’t feel any more heat.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7818, mkohn@bendbulletin.com

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