Lake Billy Chinook, Ore. — Firefighters tackling the Juniper Creek Fire have made significant progress, achieving a containment level of 30% today. Operational efforts centered on establishing hose lines around the fire’s perimeter, a critical step in building containment during mop-up operations.
Mop-up operations involve extinguishing hotspots along the fire’s perimeter and removing unburnt materials to prevent re-ignition. This process is especially vital around Juniper trees due to the potential heat retention in the duff buildup beneath them. The fire’s threat will persist, prompting ongoing patrols throughout the summer.
Accurate GPS mapping places the fire at 106 acres. To aid in pinpointing hotspots, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) utilized its Multi-Mission Aircraft equipped with infrared and thermal sensors to relay data to ground crews.
The firefighting teams comprise one helicopter, five dozers, two skidgines, ten engines, two tenders, and over 100 personnel. Part of this contingent comes from an ODF strike team strategically positioned for prompt deployment.
ODF administrator Chase Duncan commended the effectiveness of the dozer line placement around the fire perimeter and highlighted the collaborative effort involving COFMS IMT’s management and various partners, including federal agencies, local fire departments, law enforcement, and private contractors.
Evacuation Update: The previous Level 3 (go now) evacuation status has been downgraded to LEVEL 2 effective as of 1 pm today, August 21, 2023.
Under LEVEL 2 evacuation status, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office maintains orders for the Three Rivers Subdivision and the area within the 590 A road from Jordan to the gravel dump west of the 590 A road South in Geneva RD, extending beyond the cemetery. Emergency responders require unobstructed access to the area; hence, authorities urge the public to refrain from traveling near the fire zone.
Situated near the Three River area west of Lake Billy Chinook, the Juniper Creek Fire occupies ODF-protected lands within the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District, approximately 16 miles northeast of Sisters. Central Oregon Fire Management Service (COFMS) Incident Management Team is leading the fire response.
The fire initiated around 11:00 am on Sunday, August 20, 2023, rapidly growing to 100 acres. Fanned by wind, the fire posed challenges with active activity on three sides. The cause remains under investigation.