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Ten Mile Canyon Fire nearly contained; new storms move in


A wildfire that broke out late Wednesday afternoon about 30 miles north of Madras grew to over 6,700 acres but was 90 percent contained by Friday, just as a new rash of thunderstorms began rumbling across the High Desert, threatening more fires to come.

Meanwhile, crews late Thursday afternoon stopped a small fire with a very visible smoke plume just west of Bend, near Tumalo Reservoir.

Bend Fire Battalion Chief Dave Howe said more than two-dozen firefighters were called out, including crews from his agency as well as the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and Cloverdale Fire, as well as Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies were on scene of the sagebrush and grass fire at a vacant farmhouse and barn at 64225 Sisemore Road.

Howe said crews stopped the fire at just over a half-acre within 10 feet of an abandoned barn. Mop-up already was underway before 5 p.m., and the cause of the fire was under investigation. No road closures or evacuations were needed.

There were unconfirmed reports of a lightning strike in the area about an hour earlier.

As a new red flag warning went into effect, a third straight day of thunderstorms moved into the area, bringing rain in some areas and about 150 lightning strikes, sparking four new fires, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville. All except the Tumalo Fire were kept to under a quarter-acre.

Crews also tackled two two other new small fires, Incident 378 at Stevens Canyon, S. Jefferson Co and 377, 2 miles north of that. Sunriver Fire Department crews also were mopping up a small lightning-strike fire in the resort community, officials said.

Meanwhile, campground evacuations and road closures were ended Thursday in the area of the Ten Mile Canyon Fire, about 30 miles north of Madras, at the junction of Highways 97 and 197.

Nearly 100 firefighters were assigned to fight the blaze and keep it from jumping the Deschutes River to the west. A Very large Air Tanker (VLAT) dropped retardant on the west flank and firefighters performed small burnout operations to prevent further spread. The fire, reported Wednesday afternoon, was determined to be human-caused and was still under investigation.

The fast-growing fire forced intermittent closures Wednesday night of Highway 97 between the Cow Canyon Rest Area to the south and the Hwys. 97-197 junction to the north.

Five other new, small wildfires were tackled around the region Wednesday evening, all held to 1/10th to half an acre.

They included two (Incidents 369 and 370) east of the Badlands Wilderness Area east of Bend, one (Incident 367) south of Diamond Peak, Incident 371 immediately north of Suttle Lake and Incident 372 two miles north of Suttle Lake. All were caused by recent lightning except Incident 371, which was undetermined, COIDC reported..

The fire weather warning was in place from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday for “abundant lightning” and gusty winds over areas from the Cascades to the Deschutes National Forest. Once again, some storms will bring up to an inch of rain, blunting but not eliminating the threat of more fires.

Here’s Friday’s update on the Corner Creek Fire 11 miles south of Dayville, with nearly 1,000 personnel and now at 29, 407 acres and 60 percent contained:

The Corner Creek Fire grew to 29,407 acres within the established containment lines. The south to southwest flanks of the fire are being mopped up as firefighters continue to extinguish burning material just inside the containment lines. Crews also mopped up within the Black Canyon Wilderness along the northern fire edge. Danger from snags, fire-weakened trees and steep terrain will determine the depth of the mop-up. The eastern flank of the fire has cooled and is now in patrol status. Little precipitation fell over the fire yesterday but cloud cover and cooler temperatures moderated fire behavior and helped achieve a fire containment of 60%.

The weather service is forecasting mostly cloudy weather today with scattered showers and thunderstorms. Moderate to heavy rain is possible along with the potential for flash flooding from noon to 10 p.m. This continued cooler and wetter weather will limit the threat of fire spread and assist firefighters in overall containment of the fire.

Today firefighters will work to complete the final segment of line on the northwest corner of the fire. They will also work to complete the contingency lines on the northern perimeter and finish mop-up along the fire’s southern to southwest perimeters. The eastern flank is in patrol status.

The fire is burning on public lands managed by the Ochoco National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management – Prineville District, with some private lands within or near to the burned area. A lightning strike on June 29 started the fire in the Black Canyon Wilderness.

The north end of the fire continues to burn in inaccessible, rugged terrain within the Black Canyon Wilderness. Crews building containment lines in this area are using light-on-the-land suppression tactics. They remain camped in a remote “spike” camp to the west of the wilderness to reduce exposure from travel and increase their overall productivity.

Aircraft assigned to the Corner Creek Fire are also being used to help with any new initial attack firefighting efforts and on the West Fork Fire, located 10 miles southeast of Dayville on the Malheur National Forest.

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Closure Information

Road Closure: South Fork Road/County Road 42 remains closed to the general public from near Dayville to south of Forest Road 58 junction due to fire activity.

Area Closure: On the North, from the Ochoco National Forest (N.F.) boundary at the North Fork of Birch Creek in Township 13S, Range 25E, Section 30, south to the Ochoco N.F. Boundary near the junction of Forest Roads 58 and 030, and all roads, trails and Forest lands east to the Ochoco Naitonal Forest Boundary (see Inciweb map). See closure details at:

The West Fork Fire is burning on the north slope of the Aldrich Mountain range in the former Thorn Fire area 10 miles southeast of Dayville. The fire was reported on June 29 and was caused by lighting. The fire started and remains on the Malheur National Forest with private land less than a mile to the north, and was at 764 acres and 10 percent containment as of Thursday evening.

The fire is located in extremely dangerous steep terrain, with many falling timber snags and minimal escape routes. A primary objective is to minimize the spread of fire and especially minimize damage to private and state owned properties and forest resources.

A closure is now in place on Forest Road 2150 west from its intersection with Forest Road 2150-070.

Friday’s Oregon Department of Forestry update:

Widespread thunderstorms and lightning moved throughout much of Oregon yesterday and last night , igniting numerous small fires on forestlands throughout Oregon, including those protected by ODF. Some of that lightning came with some precipitation, which is predicted to continue as an overall cooler weather pattern moves into and throughout much of Oregon. Cooling and minor amounts of rainfall have not appreciably decreased fire danger, however, and the public is still urged to continue to be fire-safe while enjoying or working in Oregon’s fires.

(Initial Report): Northeast Oregon District – Pendleton Unit: Firefighters from around the area have responded to a fire ignited by a thunderstorm on Thursday evening on lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla (CTUIR). The Table Rock Fire, burning approximately 8 miles northeast of Pilot Rock, was estimated at 400 acres. This morning , the fire is 100 percent lined and in mop-up. The fire suppression is being led by ODF, with firefighters and/or equipment assisting from Helix, Echo, Stanfield, and Pilot Rock Rural Fire Departments, Pendleton Fire Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, CTUIR Tribal Fire, and Umatilla National Forest. Burning in mostly grass and brush, this morning the fire is 100 percent lined and in mop-up. Unless the situation warrants more reports, this will be the only report on this fire.

(Updated Report): North Cascade District – Santiam Unit: The Niagara Fire, reported on July 4 burning on state forestlands adjacent to Highway 22 near Big Cliff Dam, remains at approximately 79 acres and is now estimated as 85 percent contained, with full containment expected around Monday ( July 13 ). Approximately 120 firefighting personnel remained on this fire late yesterday afternoon, however resources continue to be released as the fire is more fully contained. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Fire statistics are for the current year and the average over the past 10 years for the 16 million acres of private and public forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

January 1 , 2015 through July 10 , 2015:
Lightning-caused fires: 130 fires burned 1,014 acres
Human-caused fires: 329 fires burned 673 acres
Total: 459 fires burned 1,687 acres

10-year average ( January 1 through July 10 ):
Lightning-caused fires: 53 fires burned 501 acres
Human-caused fires: 223 fires burned 1,428 acres
Total: 276 fires burned 1,949 acres

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