Preliminary findings in the investigation of a 106-acre wildfire near Lake Billy Chinook last month, which led to mandatory evacuations, indicate that target shooting was a likely cause, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.
The Juniper Creek Fire started August 20 about 16 miles north of Sisters and a couple of miles southwest of the Three Rivers subdivision which has hundreds of homes, mostly vacation properties. ODF was able to contain it.
ODF said despite precautions taken by the responsible person while shooting on their property, a bullet fragment appears to have started the fire. Hot and dry conditions existed, making fuels more likely to ignite.
“This is a great learning opportunity to show that no matter how many precautions you take, you can still accidentally start a wildfire,” said Ben Duda, Sisters Wildland Fire Supervisor. “We’re grateful that the responsible party reacted quickly and called 911. Without that fast reporting, ODF wouldn’t have been able to catch the fire as quickly and keep it small.”
ODF also want to remind the public that even though temperatures are cooling down, wildfire danger is still present. They say if you see that a fire has started, no matter how small, do not hesitate to call 911.
The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for Saturday for dry and unstable conditions for fire weather for most of Crook, Jefferson and eastern Deschutes counties.