Fire burned 8.4 acres, threatened homes; Cloverdale fire chief praises teamwork

http://www.ktvz.com/news/brushfire-east-of-sisters-shuts-fryrear-road/41006852

SISTERS, Ore. -

A wind-whipped brushfire broke out late Monday afternoon east of Sisters, racing across more than eight acres while prompting road closures and evacuations of some homes in the area, with numerous others under pre-evacuation notice for three hours. Crews and engines working through the night firmed up fire lines and continued mop-up work Tuesday, the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center reported. The fire was 80 percent contained by Tuesday evening, holding off on declaring the gusty winds subside.

  • Central Oregon fire danger level raised to 'extreme'

Fryrear Road reopened to all traffic at 7 p.m., more than 24 hours after the fire was reported.

More accurate GPS mapping reduced the size of the Fryrear Fire to 8.4 acres, from the earlier 20-acre estimate, officials said. Theys said crews would continue mop-up work on the fire until full containment, expected later Tuesday.

The fire was reported around 5:10 p.m. in the 67300 block of Fryrear Road, near Cascade Estates Drive, about seven miles east of Sisters, quickly putting up smoke visible for some distance.

Cloverdale Fire Chief Thad Olsen said no structures were lost and there were no injuries, but it was a challenge from the get-go when they were called out just after 5 p.m. on a reported 20-by-20 foot brushfire beside the road. They could see the smoke column on the way, and by the time they arrived in about eight minutes, Olsen said, "We had over an acre, wind-driven fire, with flame lengths reaching about 40 feet in the area, probably 20 mph wind gusts, rapidly pushing the fire toward structures along Cascade Estates" Road. "It came within I'd say probably 150 feet of the closest structure, on the north end of Cascade Estates Drive," Olsen said late Monday night as he went to rejoin crews still mopping up hot spots and securing lines ahead of Tuesday's predicted winds that could cause trouble in the dry, thick fuels. . "When we got there, we were 50 feet ahead of the fire," he said. "Within one minute, the fire was 200 feet past us. We got a small break in the wind for 10 minutes that allowed us to jump ahead of it." Olsen stressed the great cooperation among multiple agencies, as crews from Cloverdale, Sisters, Black Butte Ranch, Bend, Redmond and Sunriver also were assisted by two Forest Service helicopters, two bulldozers and six more engines from the Forest Service and Oregon Department of Forestry. "I'm thankful we had resources available" to take the blaze on fast, he added. Two heavy air tankers and two single-engine air tanker (SEAT) planes called in to help crews on the ground.

Deschutes County sheriff's deputies closed Fryrear Road as winds gusting to 20-25 mph pushed the flames. Deputies were going door to door in the area to see which homes were occupied.

The fire is believed to be human-caused, said COIDC spokeswoman Jinny Read. By about 8 p.m., the official said the fire was 30 percent contained.

The apparently human-caused fire was one of several in the region in recent days.

"We've had a handful of fires, and they've grown fairly large and we've had to bring in resources," Reed said. She said they were fortunate to keep the fire contained to 20 acres.

The Fryrear Fire was the only major fire in Central Oregon Monday, allowing for more resources to fight the fire.

A sheriff's office tweet around 7:30 p.m. said a few homes and other structures -- 11 in total -- on the north side of Cascade Estates Drive were under evacuation notice, but deputies said "firefighters have made good progress" on the blaze.

About 30 residents on the south side of Cascade Estates were under a precautionary pre-evacuation notice.

But about an hour alter came word the fire had been fully lined and all of the evacuations and pre-evacuation alerts had been lifted. Area roads were still being confined to local traffic, and sheriff's deputies said a stretch of Fryrear Road would remain closed overnight..

Earlier, Fryrear Road was closed to the north at Highway 126. An air tanker arrived shortly before 6 p.m. to drop retardant and slow or stop the fire's spread.

Unconfirmed police scanner reports indicated the fire burned up to the western edge of Fryrear Road in the area of Cascade Estates Drive. There also were reports of at least one resident refusing to leave their home, while another asked to get in and remove their horses.

Scanner reports also indicated structural protection task-force members were called in from La Pine, Sunriver, Crook County and Lake Chinook fire departments.

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