Approximately forty campers from the E Loop of Cove Palisades State Park Campground and sixty residents from a nearby subdivision were evacuated earlier today as fire pushed by strong winds quickly burned through sagebrush, juniper and grass. Local farmers spotted the fire around 10:30 am and took action to suppress it until fire personnel arrived. Firefighters from Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and Ochoco and Deschutes National Forests joined firefighters from Jefferson County Rural Fire Department #1 to check the spread of the fire. Emergency personnel from Oregon State Police and Warm Springs Police Department assisted Sheriff Jim Adkins and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in notifying residents and campers to evacuate the area. The evacuation order has been lifted and evacuees have returned to their homes and camps. Two vacant homes and several outbuildings were destroyed by the fire, but no injuries to the public or emergency personnel were reported. Investigators from Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Forestry determined the cause to be bbq briquettes which were improperly disposed of. Fuel conditions throughout central Oregon remain extreme; fire managers urge Oregonians to be vigilant about prevention and limit the risk of starting a wildfire by continuing to practice fire safety awareness. The public is also reminded that campfires are banned on Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Prineville BLM, Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands, and Oregon State Parks.
While firefighting resources are stretched during these extreme conditions state, federal and county resources worked together to stop the fire at approximately 200 acres. Unified Command was established to manage the 11 engines, 1 water tender, 2 crews, 2 heavy air tankers with a lead plane, a heli-tanker and air attack to catch the fire and provide structure protection for the evacuated area. Additional overhead personnel worked to direct resources during this challenging fire. Firefighters will continue to work this evening to mop-up hot spots and keep the fire inside containment lines. Tomorrow crews from Dear Ridge Correctional Institution will join engines to continue mop-up. The fire burned in a mix of steep terrain near Cove Palisades State Park, and more gentle ground near the residential area. While winds have moderated, firefighters continue to watch for any sparks which could quickly take off in the light fuels outside the fire lines.