News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Air support helps battle lightning fires

Cooler weather on Sunday assisted firefighting crews in gaining increased containment on Sisters Country fires that were sparked by lightning in a storm that moved across the region last Thursday, August 5.

The Bean Creek Fire and Monty Fire started about a mile apart east of the Monty Campground near Lake Billy Chinook.

Air resources were a significant help in keeping the fires from getting big.

Central Oregon Helitack deployed three trucks and a helicopter within hours after lightning ignited the fires. The BLM team based in Prineville included firefighters from Montana. They stationed themselves and extensive gear at Sisters Eagle Airport.

Gusty winds challenged crews on the Bean Creek Fire on Friday afternoon, but after multiple large air tankers dropped retardant, crews on the ground were assisted by helicopters dropping water to cool hot spots, and dozers constructed preliminary containment lines.

A local Central Oregon Fire Management Service (COFMS) Type 3 team has now taken command of the fire. Additional resources arrived on the two fires on Sunday to add capacity to containment efforts. Crews mopped up heat around the perimeter to continue securing containment lines. As of Sunday night, the Bean Creek Fire remained at 138 acres and the Monty Fire remains at 23 acres.

A Level 1 evacuation notice (Get Ready) issued by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office for houses on Montgomery Shores on the Metolius Arm was lifted late Monday afternoon.

Monty Campground on the Sisters Ranger District remains closed.

Temperatures are expected to soar into the high 90s and may crack 100 degrees this week, which makes fire conditions more dangerous and firefighting more arduous. Fire officials emphasized that the important thing members of the public can do to help firefighters is to help prevent human-caused fires. With an increasing number of acres on fire in the Pacific Northwest, fire and aviation resources are stretched thin.

The public is reminded that the region remains in extreme fire danger and public use restrictions are in place on all federally managed public lands.

 

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