A fire roared to life southeast of Prineville Friday afternoon and forced evacuations of dozens of homes near Prineville Reservoir. “Go Now” evacuations were lifted late Friday.
The Cowboy Fire grew quickly and threatened numerous homes in the Juniper Canyon area.
The fire was reported about 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
It grew quickly to about 40 acres and threatened homes in the Ochoco Land and Livestock area of Juniper Canyon.
“You could see the fire. It was about 1/4 mile from the end of the road,” said Tom Seeling, Juniper Canyon resident. “I thought it was okay because it was going northeast but then it started swirling so this is what we got. They are running us all out of here at Level 3.”
Multiple agencies responded.
Planes dropped retardant. Helicopters dropped buckets of water scooped from nearby Prineville Reservoir. Wildland fire crews and bulldozers constructed containment lines while structure crews protected houses.
“I have a place that’s probably two miles from the fire. Lucky for me the wind has shifted and the fire is burning back on itself, so I’m not too worried,” said Gary Madison, Juniper Canyon resident. “The planes are hammering the fire and doing a great job.”
An estimated 50 homes were evacuated.
Evacuees were directed to Carey Foster Hall at the Crook County Fairgrounds.
“The one sheriff said go to the church and we’ll figure out where to send you. I think we are going to pack up and go to the school, the high school down in town so we’re not in anybody’s way,” Seeling said.
By sunset, the fire was estimated at 70 acres and was lined with retardant and bulldozer lines around its entire perimeter.
Evacuation levels were reduced to Level 1 “Get Ready” as of 9 pm.
Crews were expected to remain overnight and into Saturday to ensure the fire doesn’t break through the lines.