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First 104-acre prescribed burn near Sisters kicks off busy burn season on Deschutes National Forest

(Update: Adding video, comments from Deschutes National Forest)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Sisters Ranger District firefighters on Wednesday conducted about 104 acres of prescribed burning two miles west of Sisters and north of Highway 242, directly west of the Tollgate community and north of the Crossroads community.

After a successful test fire, ignitions got underway on the prescribed burning, which officials said has a goal "to reduce wildfire risk to the Tollgate community and the community of Sisters."

They advised smoke would be visible from Sisters, Highway 20 and 242 and the surrounding area.

Ignitions were completed by late afternoon and fire crews transitioned to mop-up, using water and stirring in dirt where needed to ensure the burn was cool around the edges and secure in its containment lines.

Forest Public Affairs Specialist Jaimie Olle said, "What we're doing out here is reducing those fuels and the accumulation of vegetation, so that should a wildfire start in this area, our firefighters have a much better chance of success at stopping that fire, keeping it small and protecting those values at risks, which include folks' homes, as well as the community of Sisters."

Residents in the Tollgate and Crossroads communities were encouraged to keep doors and windows closed to minimize smoke impacts. Road and trail closures were not anticipated, although the public is asked to use caution where fire traffic and firefighters are present.

Prescribed burning reintroduces and maintains fire within a fire-dependent ecosystem helping to stabilize and improve the resiliency of forest conditions while increasing public and firefighter safety. Once firefighters ignite prescribed burns, they monitor and patrol the units until they declare the burn out.

Officials said firefighters work with smoke and weather forecasters to burn on days when conditions are predicted to lift smoke up and away from communities. But some smoke will still be present, likely in the early morning hours.

"We have a group of firefighters that are our firing resources, or those folks that are applying fire to the landscape, using what we call a drip torch, which is going to be able to apply that low-intensity fire in ways that we want to see it on the landscape. " Ollie said.

"And then we have firefighters that we consider our holding resources. Those folks are going to be around the perimeter of a prescribed burn, often with fire engines and other devices carrying water."

This prescribed burn occurred within the Central Oregon Landscape, one of 21 focal landscapes identified within the Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy. The implementation of this prescribed burn supports the Deschutes National Forest’s commitment to addressing the Wildfire Crisis Strategy which aims to reduce severity of wildfires, protect communities, and improve the health and resiliency of fire-dependent forests.

"Historically, these forests would have seen fire every five to 15 years on the landscape," Ollie said. "For the past 100 years, due to fire suppression and the removal of indigenous cultural burning, we have seen overstocked tree stands, and that increases the risk of wildfire for our communities."

Prescribed burns can protect homes from tragic wildfires, the Forest Service says. Fire management officials work with Oregon Department of Forestry smoke specialists to plan prescribed burns. Prescribed burns are conducted when weather is most likely to move smoke up and away from our communities. While prescribed fire managers take significant preventive measures, it’s likely that communities may experience some smoke during or immediately after a prescribed burn. 

What does this mean for you?

During prescribed burns, smoke may settle in low-lying areas overnight.

  • All residents are encouraged to close windows at night to avoid smoke impacts
  • When driving in smoky areas, drivers should slow down, turn on headlights and turn air to recirculating
  • If you have heart or lung disease, asthma, or other chronic conditions, ask your doctor about how to protect yourself from smoke
  • Go to to learn more about smoke safety and prescribed burning in Central Oregon

For more information on prescribed burning in Central Oregon, visit and for information specific to the Deschutes National Forest visit Follow us on X/Twitter @CentralORFire. Text “COFIRE” to 888-777 to receive wildfire and prescribed fire text alerts.

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.

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