Thunderstorms twitch over high desert; new Rattlesnake Fire is growing on 1,500 acres east of Warm Springs


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(Update: More on other new fires)

Blaze is pushing east towards Highway 97

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – A new round of thunderstorms twitched through the high desert Wednesday night with dramatic skies and lightning bolting the area amid a fire weather warning as crews rushed to stop a new fire that began and raced on the Warm Springs Indian reservation to the east, jumped over the Deschutes River and grew to 1,500 acres.

Warm Springs fire management was dispatched to the Rattlesnake Fire, which was reported around 2 p.m. to the Bureau of Land Management-administered land. The fire was estimated at 1,500 acres with 0% containment.

The Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Redmond reported 20 new fire reports it was dealing with late Wednesday, many of which appear to have been lightning detonated.

The rattlesnake fire was under the combined command of Warm Springs Incident Commander Lionel Smith and Type 3 Central Oregon Fire Management Service Incident Commander Chad Schmidt.

Officials said Wednesday night, “The fire behavior remains active, pushing east toward Highway 97. Four large air tankers, two single-engine air tankers (SEATs), and one heavy helicopter responded to the fire, in addition to the Central Oregon Rappellers and Redmond Hotshots.

Although there were no closings related to the fire until 9:00 p.m., the South Junction Campground remained inaccessible and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was considering the need to evacuate private homes and campsites along Highway 97 and the Lower Deschutes.

Firefighters in central Oregon responded to 18 new fires Wednesday, the largest of which was the Wrentham Market Fire, estimated to occupy 10,000 acres east of Dufur in Wasco County. The fire, which began Tuesday afternoon, threatened around 20 buildings on Wednesday as it burned through fields of wheat and scrub and moved towards the Deschutes River. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office issued level 3 evacuation orders for homes in the area Tuesday, affecting 70 to 100 people.

One of Wednesday’s new fires, the ryegrass fire, estimated at 100 acres, burned east of the Maury Mountains and south of the Paulina Highway on the BLM land of the Prineville District. A hotshot crew and three engine crews responded and the fire was 0% contained by late Wednesday.

Firefighters also responded to another new fire, Incident 460, at the new Pringle Falls Campground, northwest of La Pine in the Deschutes National Forest. The La Pine Rural Fire Protection District was busy protecting the site while the forest service machines and crews worked to contain the fire. There was no initial size or containment estimate.

Much of central Oregon stayed under a red flag for abundant lightning, wind, and low relative humidity until midnight tonight.

Earlier Wednesday, officials said smoke in the Central Oregon region was blowing north from the lava and tennant fires near the mountain. Shasta in Northern California who had kept Highway 97 off near the border for the past few days.

For more information on forest fires in Central Oregon, visit: www.centraloregonfire.org

Central Oregon / Deschutes County / Fire / Local News / News / Top Stories / Warm Springs

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