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Friday, August 20, 2010

News Release - White Lightning Complex

The Oregon Department of Forestry is providing mutual aid on several of the fires in what is being called the White Lightning Complex in Central Oregon.  Following is a news release about this complex that was issued this afternoon.



As of 1200 (12:00 noon), Friday, August 20, 2010

Approximate start time: 2100 (9:00 p.m.) on Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Background: There were 400 lightning strikes on Tuesday evening causing 28 fire starts to-date. Most were small fires but five developed into larger fires due to dry weather conditions and winds.

Island Rim Fire: Located on the flat between the Warm Springs River and Beaver Creek south of Tribal Highway 9 that runs from US Highway 26 to Simnasho. Approximately 1,000 acres of rangeland, it threatened one home and several water developments, and burned one out building.

Johnson Lake Fire: Located about 2 miles south of Simnasho on the west side of Tribal Highway 3 on Schoolie Flat. Approximately 2,500 acres of rangeland, this fire threatened numerous homes. In addition to wildland fire fighters, the Central Oregon Structural Protection Task Force III (Warm Springs Fire and Safety, Jefferson County Fire District, Crook County Fire District and Crooked River Ranch Fire District) assisted in protecting homes and other structures. No losses were reported. A Level II Evacuation Order was in place for a voluntary evacuation of the area.

Youther Fire: Located east of Tribal Highway 3 about 6 miles northeast of Simnasho on the northeastern boundary of the reservation, approximately 6 miles northwest of Dant on the Deschutes River and about 4 miles south of the community of Wapinitia to the north of the reservation. Approximately 1,200 acres in rangeland and scrub oak county. Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is assisting with this fire as portions are on lands protected off the reservation by the department.

Nelson Fire: Located about 1 to 2 miles east/northeast of the Youther Fire also in rangeland and scrub oak county. This fire reactivated about 0620 (6:20 a.m.) this morning and is moving north/northeast down Nena Creek canyon. It is approximately 1,500 acres and growing. Additional crews are being dispatched to that fire. ODF is assisting with this fire.

Laughlin Hills II Fire: Located west of Tribal Highway 3 about 6 miles northeast of Simnasho on the northeastern boundary of the reservation, about 2 miles west of the Youther Fire in forested country. Approximately 2,000 acres in size, crews are back burning from Highway 3 on the eastern flank to help control the fire and hoping to hold the northern line. ODF is assisting with this fire.

Road Closures: Due to safety concerns and fire traffic, Tribal Highway 3 is closed at the Kah-Nee-Ta Road junction (Tribal Highway 8) north to mile post 33 at the northern boundary of the reservation, and at the Simnasho junction of Tribal highways 3 and 9. Only Schoolie Flat residents and employees of the Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery are allowed in the area.

Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert Resort and Casino remains open. Those coming from the north and wanting to reach the resort and casino are encouraged to continue south on US Highway 26 past the Simnasho turnoff (Tribal Highway 9) into Warm Springs and take Tribal Highway 3 north to Kah-Nee-Ta.

Total personnel: Approximately 350

Resources: 12 crews, six smokejumpers, 20 engines, eight tenders, 2 dozers, three helicopters, three planes, and 20 overhead personnel. Additional crews, engines, tenders, dozers and overhead personnel are on order.

Incident Command: Being managed by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the Warm Springs Agency of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Warm Springs Police Department is assisting. A Type II Incident Command Team will arrive this afternoon to take over the complex so local fire fighters can return to initial attach duties.

Contact: Clay Penhollow, Fire Information Officer at 553-2413.


Jeri Chase, Oregon Department of Forestry
PH: 503-945-7201

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The purpose of this blog is to provide breaking news about wildfire activity on the forestlands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. We invite you to post questions or comments about current wildfires. Please keep your posts civil and free of profanity.

Current wildfire info

National weather forecasters predictions that Oregon would see above average temperatures and below average rainfall in the summer of 2018 proved true. Almost all of Oregon was abnormally dry this summer, with a majority of the state in moderate to severe drought. Many areas posted record high temperatures or record strings of hot days. These conditions set the stage for potentially large, fast-moving wildfires.

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Protection jurisdiction
The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. In total there are about 30.4 million acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy
The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.


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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.