Air quality in Central Oregon took a severe turn Wednesday after smoke from a fire in the Willamette National Forest blew into the region.
The Cedar Creek Fire reached 900 acres as of Thursday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service. That was a revised number after previously reporting at 1,200 acres.
The lightning-caused fire is about 3.5 miles west of Waldo Lake in the Willamette National Forest. It’s burning in heavy timber.
The Waldo Lake Wilderness area is being closed as a precaution as the fire is headed in that direction, away from Oakridge.
The Forest Service said local engines patrolled the area Wednesday night to get campers and others out of the area. The public may also receive a reverse 911 call at some point.
Waldo Lake remains open as do the campsites on the east side of the Lake, but visitors are warned that a closure of the east side could happen in a couple of days depending on fire behavior.
Anyone who knows someone headed to the area is asked to contact them and tell them to leave the area. Those who can’t reach friends or family in the area are asked to call the Lane County Non-Emergency line at 541-682-4150.
The Forest Service said, “As long as the fire continues its move north and east, smoke will be an issue in communities to the north and east like Bend and Sisters and may make recreating unpleasant. Smoke often settles into low-lying areas and river corridors overnight. The public is advised to ensure all windows and doors are securely closed in the evening and early morning hours to limit smoke exposure.”
The Willamette National Forest reported that helicopter rappellers were sent to the area Tuesday, but they turned down the assignment, saying the terrain was too hazardous for safe access.
Forest users are being asked to avoid Forest Roads 2421 and 2424.
All trails and trailheads are closed on the west side of Waldo Lake including Black Canyon, Cupit Mary, Waldo Mountain, Gander Lake, Winchester Lake and the west side of Waldo Lake Trail from South Waldo Shelter to Rigden Butte Trail.
In addition, the Forest Service says “The Potter Fire has not grown much and overall firefighters are making good progress. Crews are scouting for places to construct line to keep the fire as small as possible although they are still not able to work directly on the fire’s edge.”