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519-acre fire fully lined in Cow Canyon area


(Update: Fire lined at 519 acres)

A brush fire fueled by wind and extreme heat raced across nearly 520 acres near Cow Canyon north of Madras in Wasco County Thursday, prompting Level 1 (Get Ready) pre-evacuation notices for the nearby towns of Shaniko and Antelope.

The Cow Canyon Fire was reported around 12:45 p.m. between Cow Canyon and the intersection of U.S. highways 97 and 197, the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office said on its Facebook page. It later said one or two homes were threatened by the fire.

Five engines, two heavy retardant-dropping air tankers and a 10-person hand crew were dispatched by Central Oregon Fire Management Services to the fire, assisting the Ashwood Rangeland Fire Protection Association, BLM spokeswoman Lisa Clark said.

By 7:30 p.m., Central Oregon fire managers said on their Twitter page that forward progress of the fire had been stopped through the joint efforts that also involved the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office, Oregon State Police and ODOT.

Clark said Friday morning the fire had been mapped at 519 acres of private land. She said firefighters had it fully lined overnight, but it’s still zero percent contained, as “they had a lot of hot juniper stumps burning last night and are still working to clean up and improve the line.”

She said she Wasco County sheriff was going to confer with fire crews Friday morning to see how mop-up is going before deciding whether to lift the Level 1 evacuation notice.

Clark said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

ODOT’s TripCheck page said the fire, burning two miles south of the 97-197 intersection near milepost 69, was still causing no to minimum delays Friday, but urged travelers to “use caution.” Clark said the fire began east of the highway and moved east.

But traveler Karla Toms said the situation was quite frightening along Highway 97 Thursday afternoon, as she saw “no traffic control and it seemed very dangerous!”

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