FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, September 11, 2017
Ochoco National Forest suppressing wilderness fire
PRINEVILLE, Ore. – Smoke may be visible over the Ochocos from Prineville and Highway 26 due to the Desolation fire, a new start within Mill Creek Wilderness about 20 miles northeast of town.
First reported just before noon on Saturday, September 9, the fire is estimated at 154 acres and burning near the intersection of the East Fork of Mill Creek and Desolation Canyon.
The fire is burning in patches of dead and live timber on steep slopes just below Whistler Point. Aircraft dumped water on the fire yesterday to check its growth and today crews are flying the fire to get a better size estimate.
No firefighters have been sent in on the ground yet due to safety concerns over the abundance of snags, but the Forest is suppressing the fire when and where it’s possible to do so safely.
Fire managers plan to use containment lines prepared during the Belknap fire in August along the southeast boundary of the wilderness to protect nearby private property and infrastructure should the fire grow and move.
Weather forecasts are calling for a cold front to pass through Central Oregon sometime over the next two days bringing with it wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour, which means that existing fires have some potential for growth.
There are no area or trail closures associated with the fire at this point, but managers will reassess whether any public safety restrictions could be appropriate should the need arise.
The Forest urges hunters and other fall hikers into the wilderness to use caution and be aware of current fire activity before using the wilderness.