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Crane Prairie wildfire human-caused; USFS investigating


U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers are following up on an apparent human-caused fire that burned more than an acre near the shore of Crane Prairie Resort on Sunday, officials said.

The initial report came in shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday of a brushfire at the popular fishing and camping spot about 35 miles southwest of Bend. At that time, it was reported about 100 feet in size, but it was climbing into the trees south of Cow Camp Campground.

Deschutes County sheriff’s Sgt. Vance Lawrence said initial reports indicated that a boat may have capsized in the area late Saturday or early Sunday and the occupants started a warming fire that later got out of control.

Shortly before 6 p.m. came word that fire crews had established a containment line around the blaze. Some will remain on scene overnight to mop up and watch for any flare-ups, officials said.

Forest Service spokesman Patrick Laire confirmed Monday the fire was found to be human-caused. He said Forest Service law enforcement had identified the responsible parties, but the case is ongoing.

Firefighters were ferried across the reservoir by boat as more direct, quicker access and were making progress knocking down the fire, Lawrence said. Fire engines also gained some access, along with the water dropped by helicopter.

Around 1:40 p.m., Lawrence had reported that deputies on scene “say the firefighters are making progress and the fire does not appear to be growing any more at this time.”

At the time, he said it was estimated at two acres; however, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center tweeted a short time later that crews reported the fire had “slowed drastically” and burned just over 1.1 acres.

No campers were reported in the immediate vicinity of the fire, though Lawrence said there could be some road closures in the immediate area. Boaters also were reportedly ordered off the water for safety due to the helicopter dipping its bucket into the reservoir.

An incident command post was set up at Crane Prairie Resort, across the water from blaze.

Forest Service spokesman Patrick Lair said around 1:40 p.m. that “IC (incident command) feels good about catching it, says the fire really has nowhere to go.”

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