Lightning sparks fire on Steens

Posted on August 22nd in News

Fire burning in Tombstone area on Steens Mountain

A small thunderstorm that swept through Harney County on Sunday brought several lightning strikes and a new wildfire to the southeast corner of Oregon. The “Tombstone” fire, located on Steens Mountain near Tombstone Canyon, was reported to the Burns Interagency Communication Center on Sunday night around 9 p.m. Crews were on scene shortly thereafter and worked well into the night establishing containment lines around the fire perimeter.

Monday, engine crews and a helicopter made significant progress suppressing hot spots and keeping the Tombstone fire at 35 acres until early afternoon winds pushed the fire across containment lines to the north. The fire is burning in grass, sage and a juniper treatment unit with hundreds of downed trees. Four Single Engine Air Tankers, an additional helicopter and more engines are en route to the fire to assist with suppression efforts.

Like other fires in southeast Oregon this summer, high fuel loads of grass and brush from two seasons of productive growth and low winter snow pack could lead to rapid and intense fire spread.

Longer burn periods and elevated fire intensity extending after sunrise can also be expected.

Fire danger is extreme and a regulated fire closure is in effect within the Burns Interagency Fire Zone. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level is a level four, which prohibits all industrial activity on public lands in the area. Visitors should use caution when traveling through and recreating in the outdoors this time of year.

To report a wildfire, call 541-573-1000.

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