Fire puts residents on high alert

Posted on August 21st in News
Wildfire halted near city limits 

A single-engine air tanker makes a retardant drop on the Shooting Range Fire Friday, Aug. 16. (Photo courtesy of BLM)

The Shooting Range fire, located near Switch Canyon just west of the Burns and Hines city limits, gave community residents quite a scare Friday afternoon. The fire started around 4 p.m. from a stray bullet discharged by users at the Burns Butte Shooting Range. Active fire in dry sagebrush, grass and juniper trees quickly put a large column of black smoke in the air and left homeowners on alert. Air and engine firefighting resources were quick to respond: a retardant drop from a Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) hit the ground within 15 minutes of the initial report, and several fire engines were on scene shortly thereafter. By 7 p.m., the Incident Commander on the Shooting Range fire reported a retardant line around the entire perimeter. 

Close and consistent communication with the local radio station and a unified command with the Burns Interagency Fire Zone, Harney County and the Burns and Hines fire departments kept community members up to date with current fire information, evacuation notices and road closures in the area.  Residents in the Garland Acres subdivision were most immediately threatened, though no structures were lost or damaged. The Hines Logging Road (Forest Service road 47) was closed temporarily, and a Level 1 evacuation notice was issued to those closest to the active fire. A Level 1 evacuation notice is simply the in-person notification of the fire situation – not an emergency alert to pack belongings or leave a residence. Several fire engines patrolled the Shooting Range fire through the night, checking for hot spots and supporting containment lines around the perimeter. The fire was last estimated around 150 acres.
On the opposite end of the county, the House Creek fire near Mann Lake on the east side of Steens Mountain, grew to an estimated 1,500 acres throughout the day Friday. The Northwest Type 2 Incident Management Team – Williams – was assigned to the incident and assumed control of resources and operations on Sunday, August 18. Base camp for the House Creek fire is established at the Mann Lake Ranch. More than 150 firefighters, multiple engines, dozers and air resources are assigned to this fire. On Monday, Aug. 19, it was reported the House Creek Fire is burning 30 miles west of the Burns Junction within the Burns District of BLM. It is currently 2,800 acres and 30 percent contained.
There is noticeable smoke and increased firefighting equipment on roadways in the area.  The public is asked to avoid active wildfire areas and nearby recreation sites. The Mann Lake Recreation Site on the east side of Steens Mountain is closed to public access until further notice. 
Fire danger is currently rated VERY HIGH and a regulated fire closure is in effect within the Burns Interagency Fire Zone. Campfires are only permitted within designated campgrounds, and all off-road driving is prohibited. The Industrial Fire Precaution Level is a level 3, which prohibits all personal woodcutting and limits commercial woodcutting. Hot and dry conditions are expected over the next several days, with a slight chance of thunderstorms beginning Tuesday. Visitors should use extreme caution when traveling through and recreating in the outdoors this time of year. To report a wildfire, call 573-1000. For more information on current wildfire activity, call 573-4519. 

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