▶️ Public use, campfire restrictions lifted in Deschutes National Forest

The Deschutes National Forest announced Wednesday it is dropping all public use restrictions, including allowing campfires outside of designated campgrounds.

But with that, DNF is still warning the public to be careful to make sure their fires are well tended and fully out before leaving them. DNF cites recent warm temperatures as a reason to remain cautious.

Here is more from DNF:

Remember to have plenty of water nearby and a shovel on-hand when maintaining a campfire. Using explosive target material, such as Tannerite, explosives, and fireworks are always prohibited on all national forest lands.

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To ensure that a fire is completely extinguished, people should use the “Drown, Stir, and Feel” method. Using that method a person drowns the fire with water, then stirs around the fire area with a shovel to wet any remaining embers and ash. People should be sure to turn wood and coals over and wet all sides. Then people should move some dirt onto the fire site and mix thoroughly to fully smother it. And finally, people should feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is still smoldering. If a person still feels heat, they should repeat the process. A little wind on a small ember can still make a spark that will be the beginning of a fire.

The Cedar Creek Fire, which was started by lightning on Aug. 1, continues to burn in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests. It was 120,926 acres and 36% contained as of Wednesday morning. Firefighters have made significant progress on containing the fire over the past two weeks.

▶️ Gov. Brown visits Cedar Creek Fire incident command center in Oakridge

Governor Kate Brown paid a visit Thursday to one of the state’s largest wildfires this year. 

The Cedar Creek Fire, which has caused smoky skies in Central Oregon in recent days, has now grown to 115,428 acres, caused mass evacuations for the town of Oakridge. 

The fire is only 25% contained after burning for nearly two months. 

Governor Brown visited with representatives from USFS, OSFM, ODF, Oakridge Fire District, Eugene Springfield Fire Department to hear about the fire’s background and current operations at the incident command center in Oakridge. 

“For me, this is about coming and saying thank you to all of our partners,” Brown said. “I had a visit with the City of Oakridge, the mayor and the fire chief there, to hear about their experiences on the ground and the impact that Senate Bill 762 had on the community.” 

SB 762, passed by the Oregon legislature last year, provided more than $220 million for wildfire preparedness throughout the state. 

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“The work on the local level, the county level, the state level, and our federal partners has truly made difference in terms of keeping communities safe and keeping people alive,” Brown said. “That level of collaboration, I think, is unusual.” 

The fire has cost more than $100 million to fight over the past couple of months. 

The location and nature of the lightning-caused fire made a quick elimination impossible. During the briefing, officials spoke about how the fire began on a cliff next to Cedar Creek, and the 70-80% slope and lack of road access made it difficult to reach. 

Many living in Oakridge are still shaken from evacuations earlier this month, when a wind event pushed the fire east and brought a large part of the town under Level 3: Go Now evacuation orders. 

Su Stella lives on the east side of town, and went out of town to visit friends when the evacuation happened. 

“It was scary, and the sad part was a couple of days before, I actually watched 15,000 acres burn from my front porch,” she said. “We could see a direct line to the fire, and the smoke clouds just billowed and billowed, it was horrifying.” 

The town had a reprieve from smoke on Thursday amid rainfall, but Stella said the smoke levels over the past couple of months have been unbearable. 

“We’ve been stuck in the house for weeks,” she said. “We actually just came back from the coast for a few days. My voice has changed because of it.” 

She said the amount of time it’s taken to get the fire under control has been ‘heartbreaking’. 

The cooler temperatures and rain this week have hampered the fire’s growth, but the work is far from over, as nearly 1,300 fire personnel operate from the bases in Oakridge and at Mt. Bachelor. 

“We’re incredibly grateful that all of these folks are wiling to put their lives on the line to protect Oregon resources to keep people safe and to protect property,” Brown said. 

▶️ Cedar Creek Fire now 25% contained; Here’s the new day-by-day growth map

Efforts to stop the Cedar Creek Fire reached a milestone Thursday. The fire that started nearly two months ago is now 25% contained.

You can watch the day-by-day growth of the fire from August 4 through September 29 in the player above.

Here is the Thursday morning update from InciWeb.

  • Size: 115,428 acres  
  • Contained: 25% 
  • Start Date: August 1, 2022  
  • Origin: 15 miles east of Oakridge, OR 
  • Cause: Lightning  
  • Total personnel: 1,272 
  • Resources: 31 engines; 29 crews; 27 heavy equipment; 9 helicopters 

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West Zone Operations: Fire activity slowed yesterday as cooler temperatures and light precipitation influenced the fire area. Mop-up, chipping, and patrol were the tasks of the day on the northern and western ends of the fire and will continue today. Ignitions from an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS or drone) completed firing operations that began Monday on the southwest part of the fire. Firefighters will look for opportunities in the coming days to utilize the UAS and solidify control features. The southeast area near Fuji Mountain and Waldo Lake saw very minimal fire growth and will be monitored by aircraft. Highway 58 is expected to have reduced visibility due to smoke again this morning. Low visibility, wet roadways, and road maintenance combined pose an increased hazard to the public and firefighters. A community meeting will be held tonight, September 29 in Greenwaters Park, Oakridge at 6:00 PM, and live streamed on the Cedar Creek Fire Facebook page. 

East Zone Operations: The fire on the East Side continues to smolder, with the potential for rain likely to further limit fire behavior today. No new perimeter growth is expected. Firefighters are continuing work on the shaded fuel breaks along Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway/Route 46, focusing on the roadway northwest of Wickiup Reservoir and just south of Lava Lake. They are also using masticators to add more depth to the fuel break along the 700 Road near Cultus Mountain. Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway/Route 46 remains closed from Lava Lake in the north to Crescent Cutoff Road in the South. Highway 58 is open; however, Oregon Department of Transportation paving operations may cause delays. 

Weather: An east wind event will begin today and is expected to continue through Sunday resulting in lower relative humidity and increased temperatures. Winds on ridges could increase to 20-25 mph, but concerns remain low for increased fire behavior. 

Closures: The Deschutes National Forest and Willamette National Forest both have closures and fire restrictions in effect. Some of these closures will remain in effect until areas that have been heavily impacted by the fire are surveyed for safety hazards. Please visit Willamette National Forest and Deschutes National Forest for the most recent closure orders and maps. The Incident Command Post has been established at the industrial park in Oakridge along with a camping area for firefighters near the Hills Creek Dam. This area is in use by firefighters and closed to the public. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place. The use of drones is prohibited in the fire area, please make it safe for our firefighters to use aircraft on the fire. Pacific Crest Trail hikers should visit pcta.org for current information.  

Smoke: For current conditions, see Fire.airnow.govoakridgeair.org, and LRAPA – Today’s Current Air Quality. Smoke Forecast Outlooks are available at https://outlooks.wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlook.  

Evacuations: An updated map of the evacuation areas is available at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/CedarCreek. Sign-up for emergency mobile alerts by going to oralert.gov. Please check with Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911 for updates and changes.  

▶️ Cedar Creek Fire now 115,000 acres; remains 20% contained

The following is the Wednesday morning report on the Cedar Creek Fire from InciWeb.

  • Size: 115,428 acres
  • Contained: 20%
  • Start Date: August 1, 2022 |Origin: 15 miles east of Oakridge, Oregon
  • Cause: Lightning
  • Resources: 30 engines; 32 crews; 34 heavy equipment; 9 helicopters
  • Total personnel: 1,366 

East Zone Operations:
Higher humidity and the potential for rain are expected to limit fire behavior today. In the morning, wind is expected to pick up. No new perimeter growth is expected today.  Firefighters will continue to build shaded fuel breaks along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway/Route 46, focusing on the section of roadway west of the Wickiup Reservoir. Fire crews are removing signage and structure wrap from several buildings around Odell Lake. Fire managers are working with the owners of Cultus Lake Resort to enable them to safely enter the area to winterize the property. The incident management team is working closely with resource advisors in the areas east of Waldo Lake to identify appropriate fuel break construction restoration strategies that will have minimal impact upon the area’s natural resources. Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway/Route 46 remains closed from Lava Lake in the north to Crescent Cutoff Road in the South. Highway 58 is open, however Oregon Department of Transportation paving operations may cause delays.  

West Zone Operations:
Overnight humidity along with lower temperatures kept fire behavior to a minimum yesterday. Firing operations continued and saw moderate success in some areas along the southwestern edge of the fire. Much of the southern fire’s edge has slowly burned out to control lines where crews will monitor and patrol as the weather cools. Aircraft continued to monitor a roadless area on the southeastern edge of the fire where minimal activity is presented by the fire. Hazard tree removal, chipping, and mop-up will continue to be a heavy workload on other divisions. Forest Service resource advisors are working with Team 9 to develop an attainable repair plan for the impacted forest and confident they will be successful. A community meeting will be held on Thursday, September 29 in Greenwaters Park, Oakridge at 6:00 PM, and live streamed on the Cedar Creek Fire Facebook page.  

Weather:
A dry cold front ushered in southerly winds today. Light precipitation will likely manifest over the fire area around 3:00 PM but confidence is low for amounts over one-tenth of an inch. An easterly flow is expected through Saturday bringing humidity and very low concern for increased fire behavior.

Closures:
The Deschutes National Forest and Willamette National Forest both have closures and fire restrictions in effect. Some of these closures will remain in effect until areas that have been heavily impacted by the fire are surveyed for safety hazards. Please visit Willamette National Forest and Deschutes National Forest for the most recent closure orders and maps. The Incident Command Post has been established at the industrial park in Oakridge along with a camping area for firefighters near the Hills Creek Dam. This area is in use by firefighters and closed to the public. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place. The use of drones is prohibited in the fire area, please make it safe for our firefighters to use aircraft on the fire. Pacific Crest Trail hikers should visit pcta.org for current information.

Smoke:
For current conditions, see Fire.airnow.gov, oakridgeair.org, and LRAPA – Today’s Current Air Quality. Smoke Forecast Outlooks are available at https://outlooks.wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlook

Evacuations:
An updated map of the evacuation areas is available at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/CedarCreek. Sign-up for emergency mobile alerts by going to oralert.gov. Please check with Lane County Sheriff’s Office at 541-682-4150 and Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911 for updates and changes.

▶️ Structure protection removed from Twin Lakes Resort; Lava Lake Lodge reopens

Five miles of the Cascade Lakes Highway has reopened as firefighters continue to make progress against the Cedar Creek Fire, which is now 20% contained.

It’s good news for one local resort. But for another resort, it’s too late to salvage the season.

Lava Lake was opened on Friday when the Forest Service moved the Cedar Creek Fire Road closure from Hosmer Lake south five miles to Lava Lake.

Lava Lake Lodge owner Joei Frazee says a surprising number of people visited the lake over the weekend, rented most of his boats and patronized his store which helped take the sting out of being closed the past few weeks.

In another sign of progress, fire managers began removing structure protection equipment from Twin Lakes Resort and from cabins around Odell Lake.

“We are removing the structure protection equipment knowing that if things change we know how to put it back in and where it’s going to go,” said Chris Orr, Incident Commander NW Team 7.

“The threat has certainly diminished to the point that getting that equipment out of there, reducing the impact to the public, not having folks tripping over hose. Things are looking really good allowing us to reduce our footprint and get materials back into the cache for the national system.”

RELATED: Cedar Creek Fire passes 114,000 acres, contained at 20%

RELATED: Cedar Creek Fire: Deschutes Nat’l Forest opens access to Lava Lake and resort

I checked with the owner of Twin Lakes Resort. They are still in the closure area. But even if that changes, they will remain closed for the season

Twin Lakes Resort donated all the perishable food from its restaurant to Shepherd’s House a couple of weeks ago. They couldn’t do the same with the perishables from Cultus Lake Lodge because it was evacuated so quickly when the Cedar Creek Fire burned within a couple of miles. 

“Fire activity in the roadless area up into the wilderness has died down to where we are getting 1-2 inch flame lengths due to the moisture that we received,” Orr said. “It’s recovering a little bit with this warmer and drier weather, but not spreading at any speed at all.”

Here on the east side of the Cedar Creek Fire, crews continue creating shaded fuel breaks along the Cascade Lakes Highway and forest roads close to the fire lines.

And even though air quality in the Cascades Lakes area is vastly improved, many trailheads leading into wilderness areas remain closed.

Cedar Creek Fire passes 114,000 acres, contained at 20%

The Cedar Creek Fire east of Oakridge is now burning at 114,104 acres. 

Over the weekend, crews managed to contain the flames at 20%. 

Crews have used mechanized equipment to complete fireline preparations on the south and southwest sides of the fire. 

Northeast Incident Management Team 9 will take command of the west zone of the fire starting Monday morning, taking over operations from Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 3. 

The Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway/Highway 46 will remain closed between Lava Lake and the Crescent Cutoff/Road 61. 

There are currently 1,817 firefighters working on the fire. 

The full Sunday update can be read below: 

CedarCreekFire_Update_20220925_220180

Cedar Creek Fire: Deschutes Nat’l Forest opens access to Lava Lake and resort

The Deschutes National Forest has reduced the closure area for the Cedar Creek Fire Friday, allowing for recreation at Lava Lake and Lava Lake Resort for the first time in weeks. However, campgrounds at Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake remain closed.

DNF said those reductions are in the northern portion of the closure area. A new map of the closure area can be seen below.

If the public has questions, they may contact the Bend-Ft Rock Ranger District at 541-383-5300.

RELATED: Some Central Oregon campfire restrictions lifted Friday; most still in place

VIDEO: See the Cedar Creek Fire progression day-by-day

Containment on the 113,809-acre Cedar Creek Fire has grown to 17% as of Friday. Nearly 2,000 people are still working to fight it.

DNF Cedar Creek closure map Sept. 23 2022

Here is the latest on the east zone operations, courtesy of InciWeb:

Crews working on the slop-over that crossed Forest Service Road 4290 are finishing their work. They will mop up the line 50 feet into the burned area seeking out and eliminating any hot spots.

Dozer line repair is ongoing from Waldo Lake to the Forest Service Read 5897. The East Zone of the Cedar Creek fire has been assisting in backhaul of equipment across the fire area.

Equipment will be backhauled to the cache in Redmond, OR where it will be inventoried, cleaned, and stored; ready to deploy on another fire.

A strike team of engines will continue to patrol and monitor conditions in the Odell Lake area.

Along the Cascade Lakes Highway, shaded fuel break construction continues in close coordination with a team of Resource Advisors (READs). READs are resource specialists who are familiar with the Deschutes National Forest ecology, and have a strong understanding of potential effects of wildland fires upon significant natural and cultural resources.

As a section of shaded fuel break construction is finished, READs are brought in to assess the work and sign off on the completed line.   Forest closures are in place on both the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests for firefighter and public safety.

 

▶️ New Oregon wildfire risk map is coming

A new draft of the Oregon wildfire risk map that received public outcry earlier this year will be released next March, the Oregon Department of Forestry said Thursday. 

The Oregon Explorer Wildfire Risk Map, mandated by Senate Bill 762 in 2021, was released on June 30. The Department of Forestry sent notices to property owners who were considered to be in the high or extreme risk classifications.

But the state pulled the map on August 4 after receiving feedback from some 2,000 Oregonians.

Sunriver resident Bill Worden told Central Oregon Daily News in August he’s done everything he can on his property to lower the wildfire risk to his house. But on the wildfire risk map, he was still at the same risk as other properties that had not taken precautionary measures.

“The problem that I have with it is they’ve done that by satellite imagery and potentially talking to other people, but they’ve not done a real boots-on-the-ground assessment,” said Worden. 

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ODF said at the time it based the risk classifications on weather, climate, topography and vegetation. 

The department now says it has revised its timeline for rolling out the map based on the feedback it received. The draft will go out on March 1 with the final version released late next year before it is officially implemented. There will be an appeals period before it takes effect.

Between now and then, the state is offering opportunities to engage with the public.

  • October 2022 – February 2023: Public and stakeholder engagement, outreach and education. Includes wildfire science, risk and mitigation outreach and education, with focus on the most vulnerable areas; identifying opportunities for investments in wildfire prevention; completing building codes and defensible space standards for the most vulnerable communities; compilation and analysis of feedback received; and technical refinements.
  • March 1, 2023: Public rollout of draft wildfire risk map. Draft map shared with the public.
  • March 2023 – September 2023: Public outreach, engagement and education on draft wildfire risk map. Includes working with ODF, OSU College of Forestry, local governments, planning departments, Department of Land Conservation and Development, Oregon State Fire Marshal and the state Building Codes Division to review the draft map; public outreach, education and engagement on the draft map and related topics including building codes and defensible space standards; and making any necessary revisions based on feedback received on updated map.
  • October 2023 – December 2023: Final wildfire risk map shared with the public for implementation. Includes sharing a final wildfire risk map with the public, initiating a 60-day appeals process and notifying those who are in the most high-risk areas about the steps needed to protect their homes and properties from catastrophic wildfires and how to comply with defensible space standards and building codes.

“Oregon State University’s College of Forestry has used, and will continue to use, the best science to contribute to statewide wildfire risk mapping,” Tom DeLuca, dean of OSU’s College of Forestry, said in a statement. “We support the importance of changing the timeline for the mapping component of SB 762. This added time provides an opportunity to better share information and conduct authentic community engagement by listening to Oregonians and community leaders across our state in the implementation of the new law. Even with the timeline change, we must all recognize that addressing fire risk in Oregon is a priority that will require all of us to work together.”  

Some Central Oregon campfire restrictions lifted Friday; most still in place

Campfires will be allowed in in developed campgrounds and dispersed sites on lands managed by the Ochoco National Forest, Crooked River National Grassland, and Prineville District BLM starting Friday,

That announcement was made by Central Oregon Fire Information.

Public fire restrictions will remain in place on the Deschutes National Forest. “Campfires are currently only allowed in open, designated, developed campgrounds. A list of approved campgrounds can be found here: fs.usda.gov/detail/deschutes/home/?cid=stelprdb5297376. Campfires are not allowed in Wilderness areas.”

RELATED: New Oregon wildfire risk map is coming

RELATED: Cedar Creek Fire now 113,000 acres; See the new fire progression map

Annual campfire restrictions along portions of the Crooked, Deschutes, John Day, and White Rivers, as well as on BLM-administered lands along Lake Billy Chinook and Lake Simtustus remain in effect until October 15, Central Oregin Fire said. Portable propane campfires reman prohibited and campfires are only allowed in designated campgrounds. More details on these seasonal restrictions can be found at https://www.blm.gov/orwafire

Fire officials continue to warn people to be sure their campfires are fully out. And make sure to have plenty of water and shovel on hand if needed.

Citing cooler temperatures and recent rains, fire officials on the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Crooked River National Grassland, and Prineville District BLM are lowering the Industrial Fire Precaution Level to a Level 1. That removes restrictions on the type and timing of commercial activities, including personal woodcutting. But Central Oregon Fire says “operators are still required to remain onsite for an hour to complete a Fire Watch after equipment is shut down.”

The IFPL in Central Oregon will drop to IFPL 1, which removes restrictions on the type and timing of commercial activities, including personal woodcutting. Operators are still required to remain onsite for an hour to complete a Fire Watch after equipment is shut down.

▶️Weekend rain helps with direct attack on Cedar Creek Fire, but danger remains

Up to half an inch of rain and hail fell on the Cedar Creek Fire over the weekend. That helped moderate fire behavior.

But the fight is far from over.

Most of the areas where the fire is considered contained are east of Waldo Lake and west of the Cascade Lakes Highway.

“The rain will help us, but if we aren’t very methodical about catching all the heats, as soon as it dries out again, it can start moving,” said Morgan Rigney, a hotshot firefighter from Mormon Lake, Arizona. 

RELATED: Cedar Creek Fire now 113,000 acres; See the new fire progression map

The weekend rains dampened the ground about two-inches deep, but the fire is burning through layers of debris that are still dry. 

When the heat hits a tree, it flares to life above ground.

“To put it fully, out we’ll get some water in here, keep stirring it up. It will be a several days to weeklong process to fully mop it up,” Rigney said.

Down the road closer to the Cascade Lakes Highway, crews are busy creating shaded fuel breaks by cutting back dense stands of lodgepole pine trees, effectively widening the fuel break the roads represent.

“Here we are creating a fuel break, clearing out ladder fuels and taking out a majority of the fuel within 50 feet of the buffer,” said Travis Surplus, firefighter. “That’s to prevent fire from bumping this line and, if we need to, do a back burn off this line.”

Crews continue to work to create fuel breaks between Odell Lake, Davis Lake, and the Cascade Lakes Highway. 

Between Little Cultus Lake and Deer Lake, crews are brushing, chipping and removing snags to protect Cultus Mountain from future fire advancement. 

Crews have made miles of fuel breaks along roads on the east flank of the Cedar Creek Fire and they will continue to do so until the fire is fully contained.