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Small wildfire closes McKenzie Pass Hwy. for two hours


A small lightning-sparked fire near Scott Lake on the Willamette National Forest prompted a two-hour closure of the Old McKenzie Pass Highway Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

Oregon Highway 242 was closed around 1:30 p.m. at the western junction with Highway 126, the McKenzie Highway, due to the one-acre blaze, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation.

ODOT said travelers from Sisters were being allowed to go only as far as the Dee Wright Observatory, near milepost 75, and that drivers should remain alert for firefighting equipment and personnel in the area.

The fire broke out on the steep slopes above the highway, near Scott Lake, and was called in almost simultaneously by two fire lookouts and a forest visitor on South Sister, said Jude McHugh, Willamette National Forest public affairs officer.

Firefighters quickly got a line around the blaze, believed to be a holdover fire from recent thunderstorms, she said.

“Because the fire was so close to Highway 242, and because that road is so steep and narrow, we requested that ODOT temporarily close the highway,” said District Ranger Terry Baker. “We’re grateful to their swift response and now that the bulk of the firefighting effort is done, the highway has been reopened.”

Officials said crews would remain on the scene Wednesday night, ensuring that any remaining hot spots are put out immediately.

“We don’t anticipate any more trouble with this fire, but we are going to patrol the area as long as needed to ensure that this area is safe for visitors,” Baker said.

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