Story updated at 1:45 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4 with size of Cedar Creek Fire updated.
The Cedar Creek Fire grew to 900 acres on Thursday and has brought a closure and evacuations to the Waldo Lake Wilderness outside of Oakridge.
The fire is 3.5 miles west of Waldo Lake and 12 miles from Oakridge in the Cascade Mountains of the Willamette National Forest. It was sparked after thousands of lightning strikes raked Oregon during the past week.
The U.S. Forest Service has closed the entire Waldo Lake Wilderness area, in addition to all the west side trails and campgrounds. The area is being patrolled and people are being told to leave, officials said.
The decision about Waldo Lake’s east side, including whether to keep the overall lake open and campgrounds such as North Waldo, Islet and Shadow Bay, will be made in the next couple of days, officials said. For now, they are still open.
“It depends on the fire behavior and direction,” fire spokesperson Kris Erikson said.
“(We’re) closing the entire Waldo Lake Wilderness area as a precaution as the fire is headed in that direction, away from the community of Oakridge,” the U.S. Forest Service added in a news release.
Fire crews added that the outlook isn’t necessarily dire.
It is also 12 miles east of the community of Oakridge.
“There are no major east winds in the forecast for the near future which is good news for Oakridge and four large air tankers are currently on the fire dropping retardant,” fire crews said. A type 1 fire team will take over managing the fire on Thursday.
Fire crews staffing the blaze said that as long as the fire continues its move north and east, smoke will be an issue in communities to the north and east including Bend and Sisters and may make recreating unpleasant, the Forest Service said.
Updates on all of Oregon’s wildfires and notes from fire season will be updated below
Oregon raked by 5,800 lightning strikes
Thunderstorms have kept firefighters busy across Oregon the past week, as a total of 5,800 strikes have hit the state since July 30, according to the Northwest Coordination Center.
The strikes have ignited most of the major fires currently burning across the state.
Before this system, Oregon had a lower than normal number of lightning strikes. In June, Oregon had 13,310 strikes for the entire month, which is 86% of normal. In July, the state had 12,940 strikes, which is 59% of normal.
Air quality advisory lifted for Jackson and Klamath counties, improves statewide
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality lifted an air quality advisory Thursday for Jackson and Klamath counties due to improved smoke conditions and a favorable weekend weather forecast.
Fires around Oregon and Northern California may still cause localized smoke impacts, but overall, air quality is good across the state except for being at “moderate” levels in the Bend area.
Gov. Kate Brow declares emergency in Wasco County fire that grew to 10,500 acres
Gov. Kate Brown has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act in response to the Miller Road in Wasco County. The fire sparked Tuesday and had burned about 10,500 acres of grass, brush and juniper near the community of Juniper Flats as of Thursday morning.
Residents of several homes near the fire were ordered to evacuate.
The emergency act is declared when a fire is a threat to life, safety and property and when that threat exceeds the capacity of local fire fighting personnel. It allows the state fire marshal to bring in additional firefighters and equipment from around the state.
McKinney, Alex, Yeti Complex Fires burning over 60,000 acres collectively
After another hot and dry evening, firefighters continue to battle the McKinney and Yeti Complex Fires along the Highway 96 corridor just south of the Oregon-California border. Crews are focusing on protecting nearby communities, such as Seiad and Happy Camp, according to a forest service report Thursday morning.
The McKinney Fire has burned 58,668 acres with 10% containment, and the Yeti Complex has burned 4,626 as of today with 0% containment.
Nearby, the Alex Fire reached 151 acres and is also 0% contained, although crews reported little to no growth over the last day. Personnel for all three fires currently totals over 3,000 people, according to Forest Service updates.
Smoke from the McKinney Fire is projected to move east over the course of Wednesday, impacting communities such as Yreka, Horn Brook, Weed and Black Butte. High temperatures are forecasted into the weekend as well as dry conditions and winds, with a slight chance of more thunderstorms next week, according to the Forest Service.
After the discovery of two individuals in separate residences inside the perimeter of the fire, the confirmed fatalities for the McKinney Fire reached four early Tuesday morning, according to officials.
McKinney Fire live updates:Unstable air could create hazardous conditions; death toll at four
Miller Road Fire estimated 10,500 acres, one structure lost
The Miller Road Fire, located near Juniper Flat in Wasco County, is estimated to have burned 10,500 acres as of Thursday morning, according to Oregon State Fire Marshall.
One structure was reported lost to the fire due to high winds and ember showers, despite crew efforts to protect the structure. Firefighters will begin the mop-up process along the heel of the fire, as well as check for hot spots and increase the control line, said the report.
Potter Fire grows to 125 acres
The Potter Fire, previously assumed to have grown to 400 acres on Potter Mountain, was remapped Tuesday and has since grown to be estimated at 125 acres, according to Northwest Incident Management. Northwest of Lemolo Lake and north of the North Umpqua River, on the border of Willamette and Umpqua national forests, the Potter Fire was 0% contained as of Wednesday morning.
“We want to keep this fire’s footprint as small as possible and all assigned people and equipment will be focused on finding ways to work as close to the edge as safely possible. We are actively looking for every opportunity to stop the spread,” Fire Management staff officer Ed Hiatt said in a news release.
“The fire was reported and very active although in a relatively remote area,” the forest service said in a Facebook post.
Windigo Fire increased to 1,093 acres, Tolo Mountain 75% contained
The Windigo Fire, burning in the area of Windigo Pass south of Diamond Peak, has been re-estimated today at 1,093 acres, according to the forest service. The fire is actively burning timber off Forest Service Road 60 on the Douglas and Klamath counties divide in Umpqua National Forest, according to officials.
It’s in a popular area near Timpanogas Lake. A large closure of trails and natural areas is in effect near the fire. A full list of closures can be found here. Weekend lightning storms resulted in roughly 220 strikes across Lake and Klamath counties, according to officials.
Nearby, the Tolo Mountain fire in the Deschutes National Forest is being held at 41 acres and is now 75% contained. Local crews remain to mop up the area until full containment is reached, an update from officials on Tolo Mountain said.
Central OR reports no new fires, Beech Creek moving slowly
The Beech Creek Fire reported little to no progression overnight, currently recorded at 248 acres at 15% containment. Fire crews will spend Thursday continuing active suppression work as well as connecting with local landowners to address concerns, according to officials.
Central Oregon Fire reported no new starts or significant changes to preexisting fires as of Thursday morning.
The Fly Creek Fire was last reported at 280 acres Tuesday night and 80% containment on a blaze that brought evacuation orders to the Metolius Arm of Lake Billy Chinook in central Oregon.
A dozer line has been constructed around 80% of the fire perimeter and air support dropped retardant late Monday. On Wednesday, a drone will be used to map hot spots of the fire as the crew focuses on extinguishing hot spots, according to Central Oregon Fire.