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More progress seen on wildfires near Madras, Terrebonne


A wildfire that broke out Friday northwest of Madras was expected to be fully contained by Sunday night, while another blaze west of Terrebonne also has not grown, a fire official said Sunday.

The Willow Fire at Willow Creek Canyon near Pelton Dam was 60 percent contained by Sunday and remained at 150 acres, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Patrick Lair. Full containment was expected Sunday night.

The Lower Valley Fire, which broke out earlier Friday eight miles west of Terrebonne from burning hay bales, remained at 50 acres, but Lair said he had not been able to get a new containment estimate from incident commanders.

Crews have been working to shore up containment lines on both fires during another warm, windy late-August weekend.

Lair had said Friday that the Willow Fire “got active again last night, but crews worked late into the night to get a handle on it.”

Here’s the Saturday morning update from Central Oregon Fire Management Service:

Working through the evening yesterday, firefighters kept the Willow Fire from crossing Willow Creek and halted the fire’s spread with an effort that included helicopters, air tankers, engines, and hand crews.

The fire size is now estimated at about 150 acres, with 30 percent containment.

Crews will continue to suppress the fire today using three helicopters, a hotshot crew, multiple engines and other resources. Full containment is expected by tomorrow night.

The Willow Fire, located about 8 miles northwest of Madras (2 miles northeast of Pelton Dam), was reported yesterday at 1:30 pm. The emergency response includes Jefferson County and federal resources, using both structural and wildland firefighters.

The fire is deemed to be human-caused but remains under investigation.

The Lower Valley Fire, located about 8 miles west of Terrebonne off Lower Bridge Road, has been reassessed at about 50 acres. An updated containment estimate was unavailable this morning.

Firefighters worked through the night to strengthen containment lines and will continue working the fire this morning with a suppression effort that includes multiple engines, hand crews and aircraft.

The fire’s cause remains under investigation.

REMINDER: Central Oregon remains in extreme fire danger and all public lands are under some level of public use restrictions.

For information about fire restrictions on federally-managed lands in Central Oregon, visit:

For information about fire restrictions on state-protected lands in Central Oregon, visit:

For the latest fire updates, follow the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Twitter feed at

Earlier story:

Three major wildfires broke out and were quickly tackled across the High Desert Friday, just hours after campfire restrictions began on Central Oregon public lands at the peak of fire season.

Burning bales of hay apparently ignited the Lower Valley Fire, which broke out shortly before noon near Lower Valley Drive about eight miles west of Terrebonne off Lower Bridge Road.

Close to 40 engines and other apparatus responded, along with a structural protection task force, helicopters, heavy air tankers and single-engine air tankers, according to the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.

By Friday evening, crews had stopped the fire’s forward progress and were beginning to lay hose around the perimeter and mop up. The fire had grown to about 75 acres.

The structural protection task force was made up of engines from Cloverdale, Sisters, Redmond and Crook County.

Around 1:30 p.m. came word of the Willow Fire, which grew to about 100 acres in the Willow Creek Canyon area, eight miles northwest of Madras, or two miles northeast of Pelton Dam, COIDC spokeswoman Lisa Clark said.

COIDC was in unified command on that fire with Jefferson County authorities, with structural and wildland crews working together to keep the fire from moving toward homes.

Crews were working Friday evening on the west side of the fire, which remained active on about 20 percent of the line. But Clark said cool evening temperatures and rising relative humidity would reduce fire behavior and assist firefighters.

The fire was found to be human-caused, with the specific cause under investigation.

Late Friday afternoon, Sheriff Jim Adkins said the fire was burning slowly toward the east in the canyon, but was still about four miles from Madras and “will not threaten” the community. It also was moving west down the canyon, about three miles from Lake Simtustus.

One house was put on Level 1 pre-evacuation alert, with structural crews on hand to protect it if need be. Air attack was dropping retardant on the east line as helicopters worked the west and south.

“They should have this one controlled soon,” he said.

Adkins said earlier he’d also learned of a new fire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation that had prompted evacuations in the West Hills area. But within an hour, he said he’d learned people were being let back in their homes.

William Wilson of Warm Springs Fire Management said the Cemetary Fire burned about 2 1/2 acres and closed Tenino Road for a short time, threatening dozens of homes. Six engines, a heli-tack crew of eight and firefighters had it stopped by 5 p.m. Mop-up continued into the evening.

Burning hay on a truck reportedly sparked the wildfire west of Terrebonne, torching trees, closing Lower Bridge Way and prompting call-up of a structural protection task force amid warnings to nearby residents.

By 4 p.m., firefighters were getting a handle on the Lower Bridge-area blaze and starting to mop up, while some crews and engines were being reassigned to the other new fire northwest of Madras.

The fire began shortly before noon off Lower Valley Drive, near the intersection with Lower Bridge Way at milepost 9.

The burning hay reportedly fell off the truck and sparked the field fire, initially estimated at four to five acres. Though winds were reported to be light, 40-foot flames were reported as trees torched and a Central Electric Cooperative power pole also burned.

The fire apparently broke out on private property outside any fire protection district, but two privately owned water tankers were soon on scene to help area residents tackle the flames, along with two U.S. Forest Service engines. Later, it was on or threatening to move onto BLM land, Clark said.

Two helicopters were dropping water as around 1:30 p.m. came word the fire reportedly had jumped to the north side of Lower Bridge Road. Minutes later, a wind shift had winds from the west at 20 mph and the fire reportedly jumped a line, moving toward a shed initially threatened by the fire.

Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern said numerous air resources were en route to help tackle the fire,. Some residents rushed in to move horses and other animals out of harm’s way.

We’ll have more details as we get them.

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