News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

The aftermath of fire

Fire consumed the RV homes of a couple living in the forest just north of Highway 20 less than a quarter-mile from Sisters late Saturday night (see story, page 1).

No one was injured in the fire, but the occupants lost everything they had to the flames. Embers from the blaze that consumed the RVs also sparked a small spot fire that caught in a dry, punky log about 100 yards from the main fire.

A Forest Service firefighting crew was still patrolling the area on foot on Monday morning, making sure nothing was smoldering. Jason Barber, a fire manager with the U.S. Forest Service, told The Nugget, "It was early morning (Sunday) when we found it. It definitely had the potential to get bigger."

Deputy State Fire Marshal Clara Butler responded to the site to conduct an investigation into the cause of the fire. She interviewed the woman who lived in one of the trailers and asked her permission to inspect the site.

"I'm going to use fire patterns (and) her interview, and figure out how this fire started," she explained. "It's in statute that we have to investigate all fires."

The cause was ultimately ruled "undetermined."

Butler indicated that the state of the destroyed vehicle gave her a good visual idea of where the fire started, before it torched an adjacent tree and spread to a nearby trailer.

According to law enforcement, it is not yet clear whether the residents were on the scene when the fire started.

Law enforcement personnel will work to connect the couple with services to help them recover from their losses.

The tangled and blackened wreckage of the two RVs has been taped off by yellow police tape. Jeremy Fields of the Sisters Ranger District told The Nugget that he will be contacting private-sector public lands stewards who operate on a nonprofit basis under the umbrella of Discover Your Forest to see if they can help with the removal of the wreckage. The public lands stewards have access to tow trucks, flatbeds, and heavy equipment to help with such actions.

The area where the fire occurred, north of the Best Western Ponderosa Lodge off the 2068-120 forest spur road, was already slated to be part of a Saturday, May 20 National Forest clean-up operation hosted by the Sisters Country Leadership Initiative.

Everyone who participates in the National Forest Cleanup Event scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon is invited to return to Village Green Park for a complementary picnic lunch.

Registration for the event can be made by email to [email protected]. Be sure to provide the number of people in your group to ensure enough lunches are ordered.

Participants will meet at Village Green Park before 9 a.m., where sign-up sheets for each cleanup site will be posted. From there, groups will head out to their assigned areas. The sites will be identified with sandwich boards containing a map.

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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