Heavy smoke, evacuation notices and trail closures are among impacts the Petes Lake fire is having on the Cascade Lakes area near Bend.
The fire is 5 miles west of Elk and Hosmer lakes but expected to burn toward developed areas.
“Smoke impacts us. It has an impact on our business,” said Pat Prieve, owner of Elk Lake Resort. “When they put us on Level 1 it has a great impact because everybody in town starts to panic and nobody wants to come.”
A Level 1 “Get Ready” evacuation notice is posted for Elk, Hosmer and the Lava lakes.
Elk Lake Resort will evacuate if a Level 2 notice is posted, but until then it is business as usual.
“We are fully booked this weekend. We have a wedding this weekend. Everything is full. It is Labor Day weekend… summer’s last hurrah. We’ll see what happens,” Prieve said.
Everything west of the Cascade Lakes Highway is under a Level 3 “Leave Now” evacuation notice.
The closure forced a lot of hikers off the Pacific Crest Trail. A couple dozen other trails leading into the Mink Lake Basin have been closed.
“I was hiking north from Shelter Cove. I got to Willamette Pass where I got a little cell phone service, enough to hear from my buddy ahead of me that the trail was closed,” said Patches, a PCT through hiker from Ohio using his trail name. “I didn’t want to keep hiking north because there weren’t many good bail out points.”
“Over the weekend we had staff from the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests hiking the trails, chatting with folks and letting them know that the closure is coming into place and that they need to leave the area,” said Jaimie Olle, Central Oregon Fire Management Services public information officer. “They’ve been making personal contacts with people and making sure they get out safely.”
The fire closure area is large in comparison to the size of the fire, reported at 300 acres on Monday.
Fire officials are concerned the fire will grow with warm, dry and windy conditions the next few days.
Six trails accessed from the Cascade Lakes Highway are closed including Horse Lake, Island Meadow, Senoj Lake, Six Lakes, Snowshoe Lake and a portion of the Winopee Lake trail.
The Wanoga and Kapka Butte sno parks are closed and being used to stage helicopters and firefighters as the fight against the Petes Lake fire ramps up.