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S-503 Fire on Warm Springs Reservation at 6,200 acres; Klamath fire evacuation level lowered

S-503 Fire air tanker dropping retardant 620
CTWS Fire Management
Air tanker drops retardant on S-503 Fire in view looking south off of Foreman Point
Oregon smoke CTWS Fire Management 620
CTWS-Fire Management/Facebook
Smoke from Oregon wildfires as visible in satellite image Sunday
S-503 Fire Mt Hood Meadows 630 619
Mt. Hood Meadows
Smoke billowed Saturday from the S-503 Fire burning on the northern end of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation
S-503 Fire CTWS 619
CTWS Fire Management
Smoke pours Saturday from the S-530 Fire on the north end of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation
Cutoff Fire from Hwy 50 USFS 619
US Forest Service
The Cutoff Fire broke out Saturday north of Bonanza in Klamath County, as seen from Highway 50
Mt. Bachelor Outback smoky haze toward Bend
Mt. Bachelor.
View of Bend, Tumalo from Mt. Bachelor Outback on Sunday showed layer of smoke from Warm Springs fire

(Update: S-503, Cutoff Fire updates; Klamath evacuation level reduced)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A wildfire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation southeast of Mount Hood grew to about 6,200 acres Sunday, also bringing hazy skies to Central Oregon, while another blaze north of Bonanza in southern Klamath County grew to about 1,500 acres. Both fires threatened homes and prompted evacuation orders and warnings over the weekend.

The S-503 Fire was reported around 6 p.m. Friday on the north end of the reservation, about three miles east of Highway 26, two miles north of Quartz Butte and was eight miles north of Simnasho, Warm Springs fire officials said.

The blaze was estimated at about 250 acres as of 7 a.m. Saturday, but the day’s hot and windy weather prompted its rapid growth to an estimated 800 acres by late afternoon, according to the state’s interactive wildfires dashboard. And by 9 p.m., it had grown to 4,300 acres, according to Warm Springs Fire Management, based on updated aerial GPS data.

Fire Public Information Officer Javin Dimmick told NewsChannel 21 Monday morning the acreage estimated at 6,700 Sunday night had been revised downward to 6,200 acres after an overnight infrared flight.

Monday's update said the fire was still two miles east of Highway 26 and seven miles northwest of Simnasho. Forecasters expect temperatures in the low 90s, very low relative humidity and winds shifting from northeast to northwest Monday afternoon.

On Sunday night, he told KGW winds were pushing the fire slowly to the southwest and that air tankers, including single-engine air tankers (SEAT planes) focused on a ridge at the northern edge of the blaze, helping hand and bulldozer crews to protect homes and property to the north in the Pine Grove area, remaining a Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notice from the Wasco County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire as of late Sunday was about two miles east of Highway 26, a half-mile south of Highway 216 and seven miles north of Simnasho. There have been no reports of injuries or burned structures, Dimmick said. The fire was burning mostly in timbered area, with a thick understory of brush, debris and dead and downed oak and pine trees.

More fresh crews have been called in and 250 to 300 firefighters were on the scene Sunday. A wind shift expected Monday could push the fire back into previously burned areas, but hotter weather and a chance of thunderstorms was in the forecast. "It's just really dry out there," Dimmick said, and that has already led to spot fires up to a mile ahead of the main fire.

The Wasco County Sheriff's Office on Saturday night had issued Level 3 GO NOW orders to homes west of the intersection of Back Walters Road and Kelly Springs. Level 2 Get Ready warnings were in place for areas previously under Level 1 (Get Ready) notices, east of Kelly Springs to Reservation Road, including Walters Corners and the community of Pine Grove.

On Sunday, the sheriff's office update said all residences West of Kelly Springs Rd/Back Walters Rd have been lowered from Level 3 to Level 2 - Get Set. All other previous evacuation areas will remain at Level 2.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, officials said.

A live webcam at Mount Hood Meadows (third on the page) showed the tall, wide smoke plume Saturday evening from the S-503 Fire. It was a much lower, wider cloud of smoke Sunday evening.

A layer of smoke was visible to the north and west from the Bend area on Saturday, and smoke moved into the region overnight, dropping air quality readings to moderate and at times unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Meanwhile, in Klamath County, the Cutoff Fire was reported around 1:30 p.m. Saturday and was burning on private and BLM-protected land about six miles north of Bonanza.

It was initially estimated at about 100 acres by late Saturday afternoon and was rapidly spreading to the east, toward the Wren subdivision. By nightfall, the blaze was estimated at 1,000 acres, spreading rapidly to the southeast, and it grew to more than 1,500 acres by Monday.

The cause of that fire also was under investigation.

Here's Monday morning's update on the Cutoff Fire, which now has a Facebook page:

Fire crews work spot fires as they prepare for shifting winds

BONANZA, Ore.—Firefighters were kept busy overnight suppressing a number of small fires started by drifting embers on the southern and eastern flanks of the Cutoff Fire, six miles north of Bonanza in Klamath County. Fire lines on the northern and western portions of the fire held overnight. Today, firefighters will begin mopping up those portions of the fire, cooling hot spots. Over half of the fire’s 1,150-acre perimeter has been lined. Containment remains at 10 percent.

The fire is burning on a mix of public and private forestland and threatens approximately 125 structures.

At noon on Monday, Klamath County Emergency Management, Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, working with Incident Command for the Cutoff Fire reduced the evacuation Level 3 (GO NOW) to Level 2 (GET SET).

•     Level 2 (GET SET)

East of Bly Mountain Cutoff Rd, North to Grizzly Ln, West of Hummingbird Dr, and Forest Service Rd 3812 South three miles past Keno Springs Rd.

•      Level 1 (GET READY

)East of Bly Mountain Cutoff Rd, North to Hwy 140 and Kingfisher Dr, West of Hummingbird Dr, South to Grizzly Ln.

Firefighters will be challenged late today when winds are expected to pick up. A red-flag warning is in effect from 5 p.m. due to thunderstorms with associated shifting winds, with gusts possible up to 25 miles per hour. These conditions are expected to challenge control lines as the vegetation remains extremely dry, similar to mid-to-late July conditions. Thunderstorms are expected to be dry early, but may bring rain later in the evening.   

A total of 250 personnel have been assigned to the fire, including ground crews, fire engines, bulldozers and other heavy equipment. About nine aircraft will continue attacking the fire today, including helicopters. Other available aircraft are single-engine air tankers and a very large air tanker. They will drop water and retardant to slow the fire’s spread and help firefighters tackle any small fires starting beyond the control lines.

A community meeting about the fire is planned for Tuesday night at 7 p.m. in Bonanza, which will be streamed live on the Cutoff Fire’s Facebook page (

American Red Cross and the Klamath County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) have set up shelter for evacuees at the Living Springs Fellowship Church (31897 Mission Stree, Bonanza). The shelter offers temporary housing, meals, first aid and a pet shelter. 

ODF’s Incident Management Team 1 has been in command of the fire since Sunday night. Incident Commander Joe Hessel said the emphasis today is on safety due to the changing wind and thunderstorms: “We want to keep the fire from spreading today in that very dry vegetation, so firefighters will need to be very aware as winds move around and increase in speed.”

For the latest evacuation information, visit  To sign up for Klamath County alerts, visit

Author Profile Photo

Barney Lerten

Barney is the digital content director for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Barney here.



  1. “The cause of the fire was undetermined, officials said.”… Well- there was no lightning in the area- so that leans toward human caused. Were there campers in the area- construction or work crews- was the original ignition site determined ? Close to a road with vehicle traffic where someone could have tossed a cigarette… these seem to be pretty easy answers to get- why all the mystery- ask a few damn questions B- stop relying on spoon fed press releases- cripes try some old fashioned journalistic skills and get some damn answers !

    1. You are just one mean & nasty person. Take a chill pill and find something nice to say once in a while. Or, better yet, don’t say anything at all…..

    2. What a miserable life you must lead, bghw, if all you have to do is whine and cast blame on others for superficial problems that only you care about. It’s pitiful.

    3. ^ The news sources this person prefers just throws up wild hyperbole and tailored speculation, so when any other news organization doesn’t just fill in the blanks with drek that serves his ideology, he gets upset.

      Please find help urgently.

    4. Your totally failed whining is too funny. The joy of losing!!!! It’s ok Karen because we’re laughing at you not with you sweetie!!!!ROTFLMAO!!!!!

        1. you of all people know that the pattern of “wildfires” appearing with the same regularity of the summer solstice and always from a mysterious source never to be identified has been occuring within the confines of Warm Springs Reservation as long as you have been observing the goings on in Central Oregon.

            1. ah so ignoring the facts of the matter and proving your in ability to recall your own words over the years.

              here is one for you…the difference between responding to fires on the Warm Springs Reservation and responding to fires in the vicinity of suburban Central Oregon…link is to your own reporting.

              Pair of suspicious fires destroy RVs at campsites on BLM land east of La Pine


                1. tell that to all of us down wind…

                  Have a Sparkling Day in Central Oregon!

            2. proven links you ask? these took all of three minutes to access, but then you aren’t really interested in facts Barney.

              Largest of 3 wildfires on Warm Springs Reservation tops 2,300 acres


              Warm Springs wildfire that grew to nearly 800 acres now 75 percent contained


              Warm Springs Reservation Fire Grows To 34,000 Acres
              Aug. 12, 2017 3:10 p.m.

              Three New Fires Break Out on Oregon Indian Reservation
              Jul 24th, 2005
              Over 300 firefighters battled three new fires which erupted in the juniper and sagebrush near the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.


                1. Proving early season wildfires with the predictability of the equinox…exactly as I said in my first comment.

                  Would have been so much simpler had you simply acknowledged this fact in the first instance.

    5. What in the world is wrong with you? Holy cow old bitter guy, get a life. You are a serious coward and an ugly human being. No one, and I mean no one sits on here and blasts the man doing his job day after day like you do. That is some serious bitterness and no one wants to hear it. Meet me at Drake park at 9am tomorrow and I’ll help you figure out how to talk to people.

        1. Bwahahaaaa- That was hilarious ! Internet Docs-Lawyers-and Tough Guys abound around here ! Maybe you all should just shut yer yaps ! After spending years of accepting every damn lie thrown yer way- I certainly don’t expect you to demand more from your regional or state media- and that’s too damn bad- I do- and I will insist on details- questions- and follow ups ! If I want a press release- I’ll go to the county police websites and read it myself… I wanna know what started this fire- and my 80’s firefighting Chief from Sacramento has told me this is probably (as in 80-20) already known. So lets get some answers !

          1. You as a king of trolls don’t deserve a factual answer that you would just twist into just another outlandish lack of understanding of how just about anything works, especially journalism.
            You know the truth, I’m sure. You just like to play games and reject truth.

            1. I’d say Kuya-Neverdumper-DB-all your other pathetic loudmouths who fill this site with personal attacks are your “trolls” ! You confuse my fact based and link supported comments to be in the same category as those half-wits… do try to learn the diff. Yer being called out by multiple individuals to up yer game- stop fiddlin’ with yer pockets and go get some answers !

  2. Lighten up! Don’t be so Hateful. Don’t you have better things to do? If you think its so easy to get answers, go find them and post them! Arm chair quarterback

  3. Rather than asking, “how did it start?” the better question is, “Why, 24 hours after it was identified as an active fire, and with certain knowledge of the winds forecast on Friday for Saturday, when the fire was known to be buring out of control, was it not immediately attacked with all available resources?”

    It isn’t like there are any competing fires in the region competing for resources.

  4. Why didn’t they put it out when it was “at about 250 acres as of 7 a.m. Saturday”? Do the contractors, who fund the politicians, make more money by “fighting” 4,300 acre fires than they do putting out 250 acre fires? How much of the casino money is going to fight the continual fires on the rez?

    1. You don’t think it takes time to staff up a fire? Your implications are unproven and pretty rude.
      What about the new Klamath fire that grew from 100 to 1,000 acres yesterday? Not on any reservation, but on federal land. Fires can grow fast.

      1. Ha, I forgot that those who fund the politicians are also your sponsors. It’s fire season, so they should be “staffed up”. Questions are not “implications” and are only rude if the answers are embarassing. You should ask them, instead of regurgitating press releases.
        What about the “new Klamath fire”? Put it out instead of profiting from fighting it.

        1. Jerk Merkley had the gall to blame those fires on “climate change”- President Trump was spot on- forest mismanagement since the 80’s is what we’re up against- that and arsonists !!!

          1. The fire in La Pine was staffed up in minutes…air resources were prepped and ready to fly at first light Saturday … but you already know this Barney.

            Your “moderation skills” are about extending arguments to drive up eyeball count for job security— sad.

      2. Steven is obviously referring to the catastrophic Beachie Creek Fire, Lionshead fire, and P515 fires that started small on August 16th by lightning storms- but were left to smolder until September 7ths high wind event that re-stoked the fires resulting in the loss of 402k acres, 1568 buildings, 5 lives , and the complete destruction of Detroit, Idanha, Gates, Mill City, and Lyons. The comment from Steven is neither “unproven or rude” ! The proof is here in the wikipedia link- the only one being rude is (of course) you !

        1. “The reason why the Beachie Creek Fire kept burning is firefighter safety.

          The Forest Service and fire teams found the Beachie Creek Fire burning in terrain too steep and hazardous to directly attack. Instead, they cooled it down by dropping water from helicopters and cleared brush from nearby roads and trails to try and contain it from spreading.”

          1. Let’s see, I mentioned the latest fire on the rez, you mentioned “the new Klamath fire”. and barneygetshiswish mentioned the “Beachie Creek Fire, Lionshead fire, and P515 fires”. That’s 5. You say that it was claimed that 1 was “burning in terrain too steep and hazardous to directly attack”. Good that you can read and regurgitate reporting from an actual news source, but that’s 1. What about the other 4?
            Planes have been flying out of Redmond all day today. What if they had flown when the fires were at 100 and 250 acres yesterday? Would they be out? Would it cost less to fight them?
            Have you asked any of these questions? Or, do you believe that rather than asking questions, “journalists” should only criticize those who do?

            1. We ask plenty of questions. But we also report facts from news releases, as does most respectable media outlets on the planet.
              I spend much of my time filling holes in releases through questions, asking follow-ups etc. We stick to facts, not rumor, conjecture or unconfirmed scanner info.
              But we don’t ask disrespectful questions like the ones thrown at me. That doesn’t work. Have you seen any media outlets in the state do as you ask? Doubtful.

              1. I think you mean as “do” most respectable media outlets.

                Disrespectful to ask if there is a better way to put fires out? Disrespectful to ask if there is a profit motive? You confuse “disrespect” with offense” to your sponsors.

                You, yourself, cite the Statesman Journal. Did they ask not the question? Or, are you just regurgitating their regurgitation of a press release?

              2. “We ask plenty of questions”… Yes- but did you ask these specific ones- the ones that should have been asked last year to determine what the hell the Oregon wildfire strategy to fight fires is… “Planes have been flying out of Redmond all day today. What if they had flown when the fires were at 100 and 250 acres yesterday? Would they be out? Would it cost less to fight them? Have you asked any of these questions?… These are relevant and respectable questions- lets get some answers !

              3. Sorry Barney you spend most of your time fixing spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes and factual inaccuracies committed by your revolving fleet of 12 year old not from these parts ‘reporters’.

                1. Exactly I do agree with the one. My dad used to say “they need to get right on these fires” he couldn’t understand why they wait until it was out of control. Back in his day they’d get right on these fires before the got out of control. All they had was a shovel. They’d pick huckleberries in the month of August at high rock, wolf camp. By hand not with combs that damage the bushes so the huckleberry bushes don’t grow back the next year. This is what they do now! Back then when they were done picking, they purposlý set those places on fire, but, they were there, got up off their ASS bunch of men. All they had was a shovel. You can’t say they didnt manage that right. Because they depended on the hucleberies to store for the winter. Instead of money, that was only a part of the food that got them through the winter. Today it’s all about greed, the Benjamin’s I once heard of term frog skins, cracked me up but, Money. Now days it’s getting serious no need to purposely set fires for employment. There will be enough fires too many fires to handle. There will be loss of life. No turning back now because it’s too late. My dad would always tell me every year. June 21st is longest day of the ýear. I have so…. many stories from him true stories. Really when I think about it right now counting, counting your generation, 4 generations back.

              4. Listen to all these Pulitzer candidates school you on how journalism works. Haven’t you seen their bylines on all the front pages? Oh! They’re also medical doctors and legal experts at the same time! Isn’t Reddit great?

          2. Firefighter Safety was given as the excuse for their reluctance to venture into steep and rugged terrain in early August… I’ve posted the aftermath of their hesitancy… now the dollar amount… $25.2 million ! Is that what our tax dollars go to fund- “hesitancy and over-caution”… Seems we have a new breed of Professional firefighter on our hands- one motivated by a paycheck.

  5. It’s sad that 30% of Oregonians fail to understand that our forests are having a hard time adapting to a planet that is warming out of control. It’s sad that intelligent people bend the facts to promote mismanagement as the cause for their own personal gain. It’s sad that people believe these false truths. Our soil moisture has never been this low. When you chuck a match on these conditions, explosions occur. Maybe the only way for our forests to adapt is if we let them all burn and let them use primary succession to re grow.

  6. Although the news of these fires saddens me, and the air quality makes it even more difficult for me to breathe, after reading the comments to this article I dare say I am heartened to think that there are so many individuals in Central Oregon that must suffer from conditions similar to mine. Living in confinement due to hideous and crippling deformities of the body (and perhaps the spirit!) is burdensome to the soul, but in my estimation these opportunities for those of us spurned by society to express our innermost light makes my blighted existence slightly less hellish.

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