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C.O. fire officials give update on Green Ridge Fire status, weekend strategy

(Update: adding video)

'This one is a tough fire,' official says

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As the Green Ridge Fire grew to nearly 3,600 acres, with zero containment, fire officials from across Central Oregon gathered online Friday evening to give the public an update on their strategy in attacking the blaze, and what they expect will happen over the weekend.

Several members from Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team 10, a collaborative group of fire officials and sheriff's deputies in Deschutes and Jefferson counties, livestreamed a "virtual public meeting" on Facebook Friday evening to provide information to Central Oregonians on the fire that broke out last Sunday northeast of Camp Sherman.

"This one is a tough fire," said Rob Pentzer, deputy agency administrator for the team.

Ian Reid, with the Sisters Ranger District, said his team knew the fire was in a bad place from the start.

"Part of the reason the fire is in such a bad spot is because of the values at risk," Reid said. "It has continuous fuels, it has steep slopes, and it also has private timber land to the east that we did not want the fire to get into."

It's one of several large fires burning across the region, state and the West.

By Friday afternoon, as the fire surged to the east, fire officials had announced Level 1 (GET READY) pre-evacuation notices had been widened to include Lake Billy Chinook and the 3 Rivers area.

Here's the late Friday afternoon statement issued by Jefferson County's Frontier 911 dispatch:

"A level 1 Evacuation Order is now in effect for the Lands in the Lake Chinook F.D., the 3 Rivers subdivision, Metolius Arm lake homes, Monty Campground and Perry South Campground."

The other evacuation notices that have been in place since Wednesday are unchanged. That includes a Level 2 (BE READY) evacuation notice for the following areas: Residences north of Indian Ford Road; east of Green Ridge Rd 11 and west of Fly Lake Road, as well as a Level 1 Pre-Evacuation notice for the following areas: Residences along the south side of Indian Ford Road from Hwy 20 to Stevens Canyon Road; residences east of Fly Lake Rd (FS 2055) to Stevens Canyon Rd (including all residences along Stevens Canyon Rd); and private residences and campgrounds west of USFS 14 within the Metolius Basin in the Camp Sherman area.

“On this fire, for most of the fire, we are using a direct strategy," Steve North, Northwest Team 10's operations section chief, explained during the meeting. "What that means is the firefighters are working right up on the fire edge, to minimize the amount of acreage that is burned.”

North said fire crews have managed to build a bulldozer line around the lightning-sparked fire a couple of times since it broke out last Sunday. However, by the late afternoon most days, those containment lines have been challenged by the extreme fire conditions. That includes the topography, dry fuels, and perhaps most problematic, strong winds.

“We’ve had these gusty winds of 20, 30 miles an hour, and it’s taken these embers and it’s throwing it out, and throwing it out," said Forest Ownbey, fire behavior analyst with Northwest Team 10.

Ownbey did offer some good news heading into the weekend.

“We’re supposed to get really good humidity recoveries and the winds are supposed to die down," Ownbey said. "Tomorrow we’re supposed to have very light winds. So the next couple days, we are going to have a big advantage to really get around this fire and get firefighters in there close.”

A new fire information line has been established, at 541-604-8461.

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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Max Goldwasser

Max Goldwasser is a reporter and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Max here.


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