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Central Oregon crews tackling several new wildfires


More than 200 firefighters worked Monday to contain a lightning-sparked fire north of Dayville that has blackened over 4,600 acres, as crews tackled several new blazes spotted after a weekend of thunder and lightning over much Central Oregon.

Monday brought about nine new reports of small blazes, mostly scattered on or near BLM and Ochoco National Forest lands east of Prineville, said spokeswoman Lisa Clark at the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville.

The largest of those fires were a pair that also broke out near Dayville, the largest a 100-acre blaze on the southeast border of the Black Canyon Wilderness Area. It was burning, 11 miles south of Dayville, on the west side of the south fork of the John Day River.

A new 30-acre fire also broke out a mile south of Dayville, and several engines and single-engine air tankers were working to stop its advance and protect structures, Clark said.

Crews also quickly got a line around Incident 293, a seven-acre blaze that about 13 miles northeast of Prineville and four miles west of the Mill Creek Wilderness Area. They already had progressed into mop-up by evening, Clark said.

South of Bend, a half-acre human-caused blaze was tackled about two miles south on China Hat Road and two miles east of Highway 97, Clark said, adding that the specific cause was under investigation.

The Sugarloaf Fire, which broke out Saturday eight miles north of Dayville, was 20 percent contained as of Monday and held at 4,612 acres. Resources on the fire included 203 personnel, six crews, 20 engines, three bulldozers and two water tenders, based at an incident command post at the Dayville School.

A few rain showers from a passing storm slowed fire activity Monday morning, but “much work remains to be done” to contain the blaze, according to Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 1, which assumed command Monday morning.

Clark said the fire absorbed a new start Monday outside the fire area, just north of the John Day Fossil Beds National Moment.

The team is working for the BLM’s Prineville District, the John Day Fossil Beds and the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District.

Most of the fire activity was along the northeast flank, with the south and southwest flanks relatively cool, said fire Information Officer Brian Ballou.

Fire lien construction continued along the north flank, while engine crews patrol perimeter roads and extinguish hot spots near structures along Dick Creek Road, which runs through the middle of the burned area. An outbuilding and vehicle burned the first day of the fire, and about a dozen structures in the area were threatened by the fire and some residents left for a time over the weekend, but have since returned home. No homes burned, Ballou said.

While a red flag warning for potentially explosive fire behavior ended over much of the High Desert Sunday night, one remains in place for the fire area and other location parts of Eastern and Northeast Oregon.

Sensitive sites in the fire area include nationally recognized fossil beds, anadromous fish spawning beds and golden eagle nesting sites. Firefighters are using care to minimize suppression impacts in those areas while they work to contain the blaze.

The hazards confronting fire crews include rattlesnakes, heat and lightning. Information about the fire is online at

Meanwhile, after a busy weekend of over 20 lightning-sparked fires – and several human-caused ones – there were only two starts reported Sunday night and one single-tree start overnight, Clark said. Sunday’s storms moving south to north also had some intermittent rain, she noted.

The threat of thunderstorms subsides for now over the region, Clark said – but now things get hot and dry again, so firefighters will be watching for smoke columns from any smoldering hold-over blazes for the next several days.

Along with a two-acre fire on Round Butte near Madras, blamed on kids playing with fireworks, the Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District was called out Sunday in 100-degree heat to a quarter-acre brushfire on Jericho Road, said Lt. Clint Weaver.

Fire district Capt. Michael Valoppi credited a lack of wind and a fast, large response from fire crews for helping keep the fire small and away from homes in the area. Forest Service and ODF provided assistance, along with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire was determined to have been caused by spontaneous combustion of organic products (a mix of manure and sawdust) used by the homeowner for landscaping, Valoppi said.

Amid dry fuel conditions typically seen in late summer, several other fires broke out over the weekend around Oregon, according to the state Department of Forestry, including these in ODF’s Monday update:

The lightning-sparked Harper Creek Complex is comprised of three fires; the Harpers Creek Fire (321 acres), the Hog Fire (96 acres), and the Laycock Creek Fire (25 acres), burning near Mt. Vernon. The complex is being managed by a Type 3 Team comprised of local resources. The fires are 80 percent contained with forward spread stopped. Firefighters are continuing to strengthen containment lines and extinguish hotspots, as about 10 homes were threatened.

The Jones Canyon Fire is burning in rimrock northwest of Monument near the Grant County line. The fire is approximately 50 percent contained, estimated at 248 acres, and is being managed by a Type 3 organization of local firefighters. The fire continues to burn actively and is challenging firefighters in rugged terrain. Incident Command for Jones Canyon is located in Long Creek.

In addition to the Sugarloaf fire, firefighters have been working on the 250-acre Buck Creek Fire located 18 miles northeast of Hampton, mow at 90 percent containment, and the 30-acre Bear Creek Fire located 7 miles south of Prineville Reservoir, now 100 percent contained.

The Smith Hollow Fire is burning in grass and brush near Fossil; this 21-acre fire is 100 percent lined. Cause is under investigation.

The Jaca Reservoir Fire (USDI / BLM) is located 87 miles south of Vale, estimated at 1,500 acres and is burning in brush and grass.

The Leslie Gulch Fire (USDI / BLM) is a lightning-caused fire burning in grass and brush approximately 45 miles south of Vale.

The lightning-caused Bunker Hill Fire (USFS) reported June 26 burning in timber 30 miles SE of Oakridge, is 167 acres and 10 percent contained.

The lightning-caused Buckskin Fire (USFS) reported June 11 burning 10 miles SW of Cave Junction on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest is 5,345 acres and 60 percent contained.

Info on four of these fires can be found at

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