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Roll up the hoses: Juniper Creek Fire near Lake Billy Chinook now 90% contained; oversight returns to local team

Juniper Creek Fire hose rollup 823
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Three miles of fire hose were laid to put down the Juniper Creek fire, and now are being rolled up: 'We are fortunate to have a regional fire equipment cache close by in Redmond for incidents in our area!'
Juniper Creek Fire ODF 820-1
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Fast-moving wildfire west of Lake Billy Chinook prompted evacuations
Juniper Creek Fire Watch Duty map 820
Watch Duty
Location of Juniper Creek Fire, south and west of Lake Billy Chinook
Juniper Creek Fire crews
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Crews continue working to contain and control the Juniper Creek Fire west of Lake Billy Chinook
Juniper Creek Fire ODF 820-2
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Hand crews, bulldozers had control line around new Juniper Creek Fire in Jefferson County by Sunday night
Juniper Creek Fire ODF 820-3
Oregon Dept. of Forestry
Helicopters scooped water from Lake Billy Chinook to help battle Sunday's Juniper Creek Fire

(Update: Wednesday update; fire 90% contained)

CULVER, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Juniper Creek Fire west of Lake Billy Chinook is now 90% contained, officials said Wednesday as miles of fire hose were rolled up, firefighter numbers declined and management of the blaze was turned over to a local Type 4 team.

Work was underway to recover, roll and clean about three miles of fire hose used to contain the fire, which prompted nearby evacuations and alerts in the Three Rivers area.

On Tuesday, all evacuation notices were lifted near the 106-acre blaze.

Firefighters focused on securing the control line by finding and extinguishing all heat within 200 feet of the fire’s edge and patrolling for spot fires, the Oregon Department of Forestry said. 

As of 1 p.m. Tuesday, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office lifted all evacuation notices on the fire. However, officials asked the public to still avoid the area for firefighters' safety, with heavy equipment operating in the area through the week.

See the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page for more details ( or contact Sergeant David Pond at 541-475-6520 or

ODF had three bulldozers, three skidgines, 10 engines, two tenders and around 100 personnel continuing to work the fire Tuesday.

Crews consist of resources from the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, local fire districts, Lake Chinook Fire & Rescue, contractors, and local partners.

The Juniper Creek Fire broke out late Sunday morning near the Three Rivers area west of Lake Billy Chinook, 16 miles northeast of Sisters on ODF-protected lands. The cause is under investigation.

Fire operations were being managed by the interagency Central Oregon Fire Management Service (COFMS) Type 3 Incident Management Team under Incident Commander Cason McCain. 

Earlier story:

Firefighters from several agencies slowed and got a line around a fast-moving, wind-driven wildfire that broke out west of Lake Billy Chinook Sunday afternoon, prompting Level 3 evacuations in the area and a Level 2 “Get Set” pre-evacuation alert for the Three Rivers subdivision.

Amid continued progress, with a hose lay completed around the fire, and 30% containment, the Level 3 zone was dropped to Level 2 on Monday.

"Firefighters will be out here for at least four to five days, extinguishing smoke and making sure this doesn't escape us," Ben Duda, protection supervisor of the Oregon Department of Forestry's Central Oregon district, told us on Monday.

The Juniper Creek Fire was mapped through GPS Monday at 106 acres, ODF said. The cause of the fire, first reported around 11 a.m. Sunday, remained under investigation.

"We suspect a human-caused" fire, Duda said, with no recent lighting reports in the area. "But we have a team here working the last couple of days investigating that."

Firefighters kept the blaze burning on state-protected lands within the bulldozer line overnight, and crews spent Monday securing the edges and patrolling for spot fires.

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office declared Sunday's Level 3 evacuation area as from Jordan Road at the gravel dump west to Geneva Road past the cemetery to the 2055 Road, a small area south of the Three Rivers subdivision. The Level 2 warning was for the gated community, though the fire was moving toward the south and southeast.

Duda added, "We have approximately 10 fire engines. There's currently two 20-person hand crews. There are five (bull) dozers, 2-3 water tenders, as well as there is a helicopter assigned to this."

ODF’s Multi Mission Aircraft flew over the area Monday morning, utilizing infrared and thermal sensors to looking for spot fires and problem areas, officials said, noting that "a thick layer of smoke will limit further aircraft use."

Even with the smoke from this fire, Duda says it's had minimal impact on Central Oregon's air quality. The majority of smoke is coming from the Lookout and Bedrock Fires, but some is also coming from fires in Washington and Canada.

"Fortunately for this particular area of the fire, there's been some forest management done. And the fire didn't get up into the canopies, the brush was low enough," Duda detailed.

Mop-up operations consist of cooling the perimeter of the fire by extinguishing hot spots and removing unburnt materials to ensure the fire doesn’t reheat and cross the fire break. Mop-up is especially crucial for fires around juniper trees because the duff buildup under the trees can hold heat for a long time and reignite when temperatures rise.

Even after mop-up is complete, firefighters will patrol the fire throughout summer. 

To prevent future fires, ODF urges visitors to avoid things like dragging chains.

And while campfires are only permitted in designated campgrounds, they also remind you to be cautious with flames from propane stoves and other devices.

"We are so dry out here," Duda explained, "things like dragging chains can cause fires. Careless use of chain saws and even camp stoves have been tipped over, when you're trying to do the right thing."

“Our firefighters did an outstanding job placing dozer line around the fire last night, and we’re building off that progress to establish containment so we can get back to readiness,” said ODF administrator Chase Duncan. “We’re very proud of their work, the management of the COFMS IMT, and the support of all our partners.

"We had a lot of partners provide initial attack and support, from our federal partners at the Forest Service and BLM, to Lake Chinook RFD, Jefferson County Sheriff’s, and private contractors," Duncan said. "This has been an incredible team effort on behalf of the public.”

That team effort "significantly slowed the fire through an aggressive initial attack," state Forestry officials said Sunday night.

Firefighters were able to establish a control line around the fire and continued operations into the night. “Control line” is the term used to describe bulldozer and hand line used to create a fire break.

ODF had about 100 personnel providing initial attack on the fire. A portion of the resources were from an ODF strike team that was pre-positioned to the area to provide capacity for just this purpose. 

Early on, the fire was quickly burning southeast and quickly grew to 100 acres. Active on three sides and driven by wind, the fire was running and spotting ahead of the fire. Crews initially ordered two single-engine tankers, but they were called off due to poor visibility. Helicopters dipped for water from the Metolius Arm of Lake Billy Chinook.

Firefighting operations were being managed by the Central Oregon Fire Management Service (COFMS) Type 3 Incident Management Team under Incident Commander Cason McCain. The fire was about 16 miles northwest of Sisters.

“There is a light wind that is starting to carry sparks, and there is some spotting,” Sheriff Jason Pollock told NewsChannel 21 around 1:15 p.m. Sunday “Deputies and the USFS are out there now, evacuating the area of Geneva Road SE to the cemetery, and the 590A Road, which is in that same area.”

Jefferson County officials said the fire was burning southeast of the 2055 road in township range 16 and 21, south of Graham Road in the Three Rivers area. Deputies went to the properties in the Level 3 evacuation zone to notify them, while the Three Rivers gated community was put under a Level 2 “Get Set” alert.

The rest of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office posting on their Facebook page:

Level 3 - GO NOW means Leave Immediately!

There is extreme danger in your area - evacuate now. Leave without delay, it is unsafe to stay and threatens the safety of you, your family, and emergency responders. Your life could be in great danger. Emergency services personnel may not be available to help you if you choose to stay.

Do not stop to gather your belongings or protect your home. Follow your emergency plan.

Leave as fast as safely possible. Drive carefully. Turn on your headlights. Follow traffic safety warnings and instructions from local authorities. Use or call 511 for road closure information.

If you need emergency shelter, call 211 or 1-866-698-6155, visit, or text your zip code to 898211. TTY: dial 711 and call 1-866-698-6155. Language interpreters are available by phone. Text is available Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., in Spanish and English.

After you evacuate:

Do not return to the area until public safety officials announce the area is safe.

Continue to check for updates through local city and county websites, social media, TV, and radio. {Local Resource for more Info}

Once you are safe, check with friends and family.

Visit for more info.

Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

For more info .

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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