A second incident command was established at Mt. Bachelor over the weekend to manage the east side of the Cedar Creek Fire.
One of many strategies being considered is using the Cascade Lakes Highway as a fuel break to prevent the fire from running east toward La Pine.
Preparing the highway to function as a fuel break means the corridor will look very different whether fire reaches it or not.
Crews are cutting back the trees 100 feet west of the Cascade Lakes Highway near Cultus Lake to expand the fuel break the road represents.
Expanding the fuel break is an indirect and safer way of fighting the large and complex Cedar Creek Fire that has burned to within three miles of the highway.
“One of the things we can do is try to set up in that Highway 46 corridor is to thin it out,” said Chuck Russell, Deputy Incident Commander Alaska Team. “It’s not going to be up in the crown. Then, if the fire continues to move that direction and forces our hand, then we are going to have to light off it.”
The idea of lighting a backfire along the highway is to deprive the Cedar Creek Fire of running through the crowns of trees, throwing off spot fires beyond the fuel break.
Another strategy being implemented is to thin vegetation and place sprinklers around the lodges at Cultus Lake, Crane Prairie Reservoir and Lava Lakes to protect them in case the fire breaks through containment lines.
“Let’s say for example that it was marching toward 46. Do we have time to complete the line? Get everything in place to burn it out before it crosses 46? That’s just a scenario,” Russell said. “If we don’t think we have time for that than what we do is go to the values at risk and do point protection around them and try to save those individual structures and communities that may be in its path.”
Even as hundreds of firefighters muster at Mount Bachelor to attack the Cedar Creek fire from the east, the Cascade Lakes Highway remains closed to ensure public safety and the safety of firefighters.
“If we were to get the crews, get the weather and right situation where we can keep firefighters safe, we are going to switch back and go direct. We haven’t written off anything. We will continue to formulate our plan and pick the strategy that’s going to be the most successful.”
Closures on the east side of the Cedar Creek Fire extend fire beyond the Cascade lakes highway south of Hosmer Lake.
The Sunrise Lodge and parking areas at Mount Bachelor have been taken over as a command post.
Three sno parks on Century Drive between Bend and Mount Bachelor including Wanoga, Edison and Virginia Meissner are being used as equipment staging and camping for firefighters.