The Petes Lake Fire burning about five miles west of Elk Lake has grown to 3,009 acres as of Sunday night. Due to the growth, Level 2 “Be Set” evacuation notices were issued Monday for more areas near the fire.
“I guess we feel pretty safe, but it’s all kind of worrisome,” Elk Lake visitor Everett Hoffman said.
“Of course there’s concern, but you just kind of take it with a grain of salt and live your life. We came up to the lake today just to relax for a minute and it’s at a level 2 so if it looks like it’s getting bad we’ll head out,” another Elk Lake visitor, Danny Hughes, said.
The fire started August 25, likely due to lightning. The fire was at about 330 acres late last week, but grew significantly over the weekend.
DCSO said the new Level 2 evacuation notices are for areas around Elk, Hosmer, Lava and Little Lava Lakes. This includes areas east of Cascade Lakes Highway from Blue Lagoon north to Quinn Meadows. Level 2 means to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
A Level 3 “Go Now” evacuation notice is still in place for all areas west of the Cascade Lakes Highway from the Lucky Lake Trailhead north to the Mirror Lake Trail. This includes the areas around Lucky Lake, Leech Lake, Doris Lake, Blow Lake and Mirror Lakes.
“We expect growth again towards the Deschutes, and that is why Deschutes County Sheriff’s Department elevated evacuation levels to a level 2 get set east of the Cascade Lakes highway,” Jean Nelson-Dean with the Central Oregon Fire Management Service said.
The U.S. Forest Service said winds and hot, dry conditions caused the fire to grow on the southeastern flank Sunday, crossing the Pacific Crest Trail north of the Goose Lake Trail. With winds out of the northwest again Monday, there is potential to see growth in the east-southeast flank.
Firefighters will work on structure protection around Elk Lake and Lava Lake Monday as a precaution. USFS says there is no imminent threat to the structures.
The lower Wanoga Sno-park will be closed Monday to be used as a helipad for aerial resources to fight the fire. Kapka Sno-park will be closed beginning Monday night to allow for fire operations.
A Type 1 Incident Management Team will take command of the fire Tuesday. Type 1 teams manage high priority fires across the nation.
“That Type 1 team has been managing fires on the Willamette National Forest. And because this fire is primarily on the Willamette national Forest, the decision was made to have them come in and mange this fire as it was growing. And growing with a little bit more complexity,” Nelson-Dean said.
Nelson-Dean says transitioning to the Type 1 team in this case is not something to panic over.
“It’s not an indication that something dramatic is happening or something we didn’t expect is happening, but complexity is growing and the Type 1 team can bring more resources to bear on the fire,” Nelson-Dean said.
A shaded fuel break along the Cascades Lake Highway has been completed, USFS said.
Fire closures remain in place. Click on the following link to access information about the closure: Deschutes National Forest – Alerts & Notices (usda.gov)