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Paulina Fire still 80 percent contained; forest road reopens


Another cool night helped firefighters hold the lines on the Paulina Fire northeast of La Pine, which held at 80 percent containment Thursday.

A Central Oregon Fire Management Service Type III team was planning to transition management back to a local unit by the end of Thursday.

Along with Level 1 pre-evacuation notices being lifted for three area campgrounds, Forest Road 9735 has reopened, officials said Thursday. Some local closures adjacent to the fire line will remain until all fire activity subsides, they added.

As operations wind down, crews and resources will be demobilized and become available for other possible fires. Fire managers expressed gratitude to the community for their cooperation and support.

The fire’s size held at 53 acres Wednesdsy as crews spent the day laying hose and securing containment lines. Officials said the crews succeeded in maintaining lines as temperatures and winds rose in the afternoon.

“Overnight humidity recovery and cooler temperatures helped with overnight firefighting efforts,” said Incident Commander Trainee Mike Aizpitarte said earlier.

More hand crews, engines, bulldozers and water tenders arrived early Wednesday at the incident command post set up at La Pine High School.

The total personnel Wednesday included four 20-person Type 2 hand crews, along with seven engines, three water tenders and two bulldozers.

Public information officer Michelle King said smoke may be visible on Highway 97 north of La Pine and in the surrounding area. Drivers are asked to proceed cautiously due to fire traffic in the area.

The pre-evacuation alerts had been in place for the McKay Crossing, Ogden Group and Prairie campgrounds.

The lookout at Round Mountain reported the fire shortly before 3:30 p.m Tuesday near Forest Road 9735, about 1 1/2 miles east of the junction of Highway 97 and La Pine State Rec Road and about seven miles northeast of the city of La Pine, officials said.

Ground crews were being assisted into the evening by two SEAT (single-engine air tanker) planes a helicopter and two CL-415 planes (also known as “scoopers”) that skim the water’s surface to get water to dump on the flames, said Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern.

The fire had grown to about 50 acres before nightfall but had reached 10 percent containment.

A local Type 3 team took command of the fire late Tuesday afternoon “and made great progress even while being challenged by gusty winds,” a Tuesday night update said.

Fire crews will continue constructing containment lines Wednesday and will work to secure them with two more 20-person crews.

The cause of the fire is undetermined, Kern said, though likely human-caused due to a lack of lightning in the area of late.

“There have been other human caused fires on the Deschutes National Forest this week, King told NewsChannel 21, “So we’re just letting people know at every opportunity that the vegetation is really dry right now, and we’re reminding people to be extra-cautious.”

For the latest information, follow and the Central Oregon Fire Information blog at A locator map can be found at the ‘Wildfires Near Me’ site at

Three other fires were reported in the area Tuesday, but the others were caught small. Kern said she was aware of two, both stopped at under a half-acre.

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