Crews still battling Central Oregon wildfire as temps increase

Wildfires

It’s not clear what caused this fire to start

A wildfire burning on the Warm Springs Reservation grew to 6,200 acres as of Monday, June 21, 2021. (Courtesy: Shawn Jaca)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As temperatures begin to increase and dry conditions continue, fire crews are hastily working on suppressing the S-503 Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation.

Aerial infrared technology has given officials a more accurate estimate of acreage burning, which is now reported to be 6,679 acres or just over 10 square miles. As of 9 p.m. Wednesday it was 30% contained.

The S-503 Fire is about 2 miles east of Hwy 26 and 7 miles northeast of Simnasho. The hot, dry conditions and relatively low humidity have been a factor in fighting this fire — but officials say recent cooler weather allowed firefighters to make significant progress. Thankfully, there was no fire perimeter growth throughout Wednesday.

With over 300 firefighters, crews successfully established a containment line around the entire fire perimeter by Wednesday evening. The entire fire is in full mop-up mode, but firefighters are still patrolling for any surrounding hot spots.

Crews will continue their aggressive work to suppress the fire on Thursday. More resources are on the way to the area to help their efforts.

Officials say their biggest concern is the possibility of thunderstorms heading west, which could cause gusty and erratic winds.

A burn ban on the Warm Springs Reservation is in effect “until further notice,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and applies to all outdoor and agricultural burning with the exception of ceremonial and traditional fires. The federal agency is also asking reservation residents to reduce other forms of air pollution, including driving and idling vehicles.

Evacuation Levels as of 9 p.m. Wednesday

  • Level 2 GET READY: All residences west of the intersection of Kelly Springs Road and Back Walters Road, anything else previously under level 1 east of Kelly Springs to Reservation Rd including Walters Corners and the community of Pine Grove.

The fire first sparked last Friday. It’s not clear what caused this fire to start, officials said. The fire is about 92 miles from Portland.

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