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Central Oregon fire season ramping up: Just one of 65 blazes on public lands this year caused by lighting, rest by humans

Cow Creek Fire COFMS 6-17
C.O. Fire Management Service
Aerial view of the Milepost 72 which burned about 50 acres near Highway 97.
Trout Creek Fire COFMS 6-16
C.O. Fire Management Service
Sunday morning view of the Trout Creek Fire NW of Willowdale.
Trout Creek Fire north of Madras COFMS 6-15
CO Fire Management Service
New wildfire, the Trout Creek Fire, broke out Saturday afternoon north of Madras, within hours had burned some 700 acres

(Update: Fire officials tally fires so far, say just one lightning-caused)

REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Fire season is starting to ramp up in Central Oregon, as two larger blazes in recent days prove. And as usual, the vast majority are human-caused, officials said Wednesday.

In fact, there have been 65 fires on the region's public lands so far this year, burning 957 acres.

"Guess how many were caused by lightning? One," they said in a Facebook post.

"Let's recommit ourselves to keeping our lands and communities safe from wildfire, the message concluded.

Firefighting crews on Tuesday fully contained the 700-acre Trout Creek Fire that broke out Saturday about 20 miles north of Madras, while the Milepost 72 Fire that began a few miles to the east two days later was 85% contained by late Wednesday at 46 acres.

The newer blaze, originally named the Cow Canyon Fire, burned near Highway 97 and about two miles north of the junction with state Highway 293, officials said. ODOT’s TripCheck advised motorists of the blaze Monday and advised them to prepare to slow down.

Three air tankers assisted engines on the ground Monday, with cooperation from the Ashwood Rural Fire Protection District. The cause of the new blaze was under investigation.

Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry and other Central Oregon crews worked at the scene along with the Ashwood RFPD, R2 Ranches and ODOT.

The region's first large wildfire of the season broke out Saturday afternoon about 20 miles north of Madras and quickly grew to 700 acres, but cool overnight temperatures helped crews from several agencies reach 30% containment of the blaze by Sunday morning and 60% by late afternoon.

The Trout Creek Fire was reported around 2:30 p.m. Saturday west of Highway 97 and about six miles northwest of the town of Willowdale.

The fire started on Bureau of Land Management land, burning in grass, brush and juniper. The cause remains under investigation.

BLM, Forest Service and Jefferson County resources responded to the fire throughout Saturday afternoon. Five engines, one hotshot crew, a helicopter, three air tankers and various other resources worked to contain it, and firefighters remained on scene overnight.

Officials said three crews and five engines were to staff the fire Monday as firefighters work to complete containment and extinguish heat sources within the perimeter.

Fire officials said smoke from the blaze may be visible from Madras, Highway 97 and surrounding areas.

For current wildland fire information, the public can visit or follow fire information on X (Twitter) @CentralORfire. Call 9-1-1 to report a wildfire.

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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Barney Lerten

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