BLY — Firefighters are continuing to respond to lightning fires on the Fremont-Winema National Forest from thunderstorm activity in recent weeks.
Since Thursday, June 13, the Forest has responded to five confirmed lightning fires. The first four were less than 5 acres combined.
The fifth lightning fire, discovered this afternoon, is the Dairy Fire. The fire is located southwest of the junction of Forest Road 34 and Forest Road 3372, approximately 1 mile east of the Gearhart Wilderness.
Nearby recreation areas include Dairy Creek and Happy Camp Campgrounds to the north and Corral Creek Campground to the south. There are no evacuations and the campgrounds are not at risk.
The Dairy Fire is burning in the Box Spring project area, where prescribed fire operations are scheduled to take place in the fall. Current conditions in this area are in alignment with the prescription for the planned prescribed fire. This includes temperature, humidity, fuel moisture, winds and smoke.
This has presented an opportunity to work with the natural ignition to expand the fire to meet the prescription and treat the area in the coming days. The maximum size of the fire will be 110 acres.
Resources working on the fire tonight include eight engines, one interagency hotshot crew and one dozer.
The fire is burning in primarily pine forest with a mixed conifer understory. There was also recent logging activity.
Forest managers are working with partners and nearby landowners on this fire. The dozer was used this afternoon to reinforce lines between National Forest System lands and private lands.
Public and firefighter safety is the highest priority. This includes maintaining relationships and practicing sound risk management, considering all ownerships and values at risk.
Work is being done to ensure the fire does not exceed what firefighters can efficiently manage under current conditions.
“The Dairy Fire is burning near the area impacted by the Watson Creek Fire last year,” said Silver Lake and Paisley District Ranger Doug McKay, who is also serving as agency administrator on the fire for the Bly Ranger District. “It’s important that we are able to step up fuel reduction activities to help prevent hazardous wildfires which impact public and private lands, as well as neighboring communities. The Dairy Fire is providing an opportunity to do that.”
The work with the Dairy Fire is similar to the recent Taylor Butte Fire on the Chiloquin Ranger District. Only in this case managers had a prescribed fire plan in place, the optimal conditions pre-identified, including resources at risk and opportunities, allowing the decision to be made swiftly this afternoon when the fire was discovered.
Given the location of the fire, smoke will be visible in Bly, Lakeview, Paisley and the surrounding area, including nearby campgrounds and the Gearhart Wilderness, especially as firefighters conduct ignitions.
“With a natural ignition from recent lightning, and the perfect conditions in place, being able to work with this fire to treat these acres now reduces hazardous fuels, improves forest health and produces less smoke than a wildfire during the peak of fire season like Watson Creek,” McKay said. “It also means we can work to treat other areas in the fall with this area successfully completed.”
As the weather continues to dry out, firefighters are prepared to address any wildfires discovered in the coming weeks.
Area residents and visitors can report suspected wildfires by calling the Lakeview Interagency Fire Center at 541-947-6315.
Forest visitors are asked to be careful with fire and anything that can throw a spark. Campfires should never be left unattended and should be dead out before leaving. This means drowned with water, stirred and be cold to the touch with no warm spots.