(Update: Pilot cars, flaggers still in place Monday; part of Wanoga Sno-Park reopens)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Cascade Lakes Highway reopened Saturday with a pilot car escort between Elk and Lava lakes after a closure for several days so crews on the Petes Lake Fire could create a shaded fuel break along the west side of the highway.
Pilot cars and flaggers remained in place Monday on a short stretch of the highway, just north of Elk Lake.
“Please drive slowly, as firefighters are still working in the area,” officials said.
Also, the eastern portion of Wanoga Sno-Park reopened for trail access, but officials asked that motorists drive with caution, as the snow-park remains a command post for the 328-acre fire sparked by lightning late last month on the Willamette National Forest portion of the Three Sisters Wilderness, about five miles west of Elk Lake.
Other continued closures include the Sisters Mirror Trailhead, the Point Campground and Beach Day Use Area, along with several trails as listed here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/deschutes/alerts-notices/?aid=82845
The fire remains listed zero containment, with a reduction of firefighters on the lines to 145, officials said Saturday. The fire has grown only minimally in recent days, with creeping and smoldering, though it could pick up some moderate burning along the edges that still have some heat.
Petes Lake Fire
News - 09/07/2023
Resources: 190 Total Personnel | 3 Hand Crews | 3 Dozers | 3 Helicopters |8 Engines | 8 Masticators | 2 Water Tenders
(Central Oregon) – The Petes Lake Fire was started by a lightning strike on Friday, August 25, near the border of the McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest and the Bend Fort-Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest in the Mink Lake Basin area of the Three Sisters Wilderness. The fire has burned 329 acres, five miles west of Elk Lake.
The Petes Lake Fire is burning in a wilderness area where terrain and access make it too dangerous to put firefighters on the ground. The fire has been tested over several days of warmer and drier weather; reconnaissance and infrared flights yesterday confirmed that the fire has remained mostly within its footprint.
Fire managers have been implementing strategies that focus resources on protecting values at risk, if wind and weather cause the Petes Lake Fire to spread before sustained precipitation ends this year’s wildfire season. These measures, which will also serve against future fires, include a 9.7-mile shaded fuel break and a structure protection plan for 110 commercial and residential buildings to the east of the Cascade Lakes Highway.
As of this morning, the structure protection plan is complete and firefighters have finished 45% of the shaded fuel break. Crews plan to make greater gains on the fuel break today, with the goal of discontinuing on Friday the daytime highway closure that has been in place since Tuesday.
Tomorrow at 6 a.m., after a day of sharing information about the incident with the incoming team, Northwest Incident Management Team 10 (NWIMT 10) will transfer command to the smaller Central Oregon Fire Management Service (COFMS) Incident Management Team 1.
Incident Commander Alan Lawson and the other members of NWIMT 10 extend their gratitude to the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests for their collaboration and assistance. The team also thanks the local residents, business owners and visitors for their unwavering support during this incident.
This will be the final daily update for the Petes Lake Fire unless conditions change.
After 6 p.m. today, the incident’s email, telephone and Facebook pages will no longer be monitored. For information, see the Petes Lake Fire Inciweb page or call the COFMS fire information line at (541) 316-7711.
Going forward, fire managers will continue to strengthen the control features to further protect values at risk, monitor the fire and remain prepared to respond to fire growth as necessary.
Evacuations: The Level 3 (Go Now) Evacuation Notice is still in place for all areas west of the Cascade Lakes Highway from the Lucky Lake Trailhead north to the Mirror Lake Trail. This includes the areas around Lucky Lake, Leech Lake, Doris Lake, Blow Lake and Mirror Lakes. Evacuation notices and updates can be found at: www.deschutes.org/emergency.
Closures: The closure order on the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests for the Petes Lake Fire remains in place and information can be found at: fs.usda.gov/detail/deschutes/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD1134682. Resorts along the Cascade Lakes Highway remain open for business, though visitors may encounter delays with road flaggers and pilot cars. The Wanoga Sno-Park, Kapka Sno-Park, Mirror Lake Trailhead and Point Campground are temporarily closed to the public.
Safety: The public can help firefighters by obeying trail closures and following the detour instructions in the shaded fuel break work areas. Keep vehicle and bike speeds low near work areas. Follow all fire restrictions.