Local firefighters respond to Warm Springs-area blaze

Fire season has started late, but after last week’s giant thunderstorms, it’s come on with a vengeance, fire officials say.

County Fire Chief Mike Beaver, who also heads the Sweet Home Fire and Ambulance District, said a strike team from Linn County departed Sunday afternoon with six pieces of equipment – five fire apparatus and a command vehicle – to the High Cascades Complex Fire in the Warm Springs area.

As of Monday morning, more than 20,000 acres were burning and nearly 300 homes had been threatened by the blaze.

The state fire marshal on Monday activated four more strike teams, bringing the total number of teams working the fire to eight.

“I spoke with one of our strike team members and he said the fire had blown up and taken a big run,” Beaver said Monday afternoon. “Any time you have a weather change, the winds associated with it are not a good thing.”

As a result of the approximately 10,000 lightning strikes that have hit the state since Wednesday of last week, firefighters are on high alert for new blazes, he said.

“Fires are starting to pop up over southern, central and northeastern Oregon,” Beaver said. Two of the larger ones, besides the Warm Springs blaze, are a 45,000-acre fire in central Oregon and a 20,000-acre fire along the lower Deschutes River.

Beaver said local firefighters are expected to be at the fire for at least 10 days.

“Our strike team is more than likely commited over there until probaby at least Wednesday of next week,” he said. “We’ll probably send some relief teams.”