Lightning ignites several new fires; Lake Billy Chinook campground evacuated, Three Rivers on Level 2 alert


(Update: Eight starts reported near Lake Billy Chinook; Montgomery Shores also under Level 2 alert)

CULVER, Ore. (KTVZ) – Thunderstorms rumbling through Central Oregon Sunday evening ignited several lightning-sparked fires, one that quickly grew to 25 to 30 acres and prompted evacuation of the Perry South Campground at Lake Billy Chinook and a Level 2 “Get Set” pre-evacuation alert for the Three Rivers area.

The Fly Creek Fire was one of eight starts in that area of Jefferson County and had grown to 25-30 acres by 8:30 p.m., Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern said.

The fire, initially called Incident 487, broke out near the Metolius Balancing Rocks, north of the Three Rivers subdivision along the Metolius arm of Lake Billy Chinook, and prompted evacuation of Perry South Campground on the Sisters Ranger District.

Kern said the fire was “moving quickly in grass, brush and juniper.”

A text alert sent by Jefferson County authorities shortly after 8 p.m. warned people in the Three Rivers-Lake Billy Chinook area to “Get Ready Get Set to Evacuate.” A text update at 9:40 p.m. said the Level 2 notice was for the Three Rivers and Montgomery Shores area: “Please be ‘set’ to go if needed!”

Earlier Sunday evening, firefighters had responded to three new lightning-sparked fires, two on the Deschutes National Forest and one on the Ochoco National Forest,

Kern said fire lookouts were continually scanning the skies, while Oregon Department of Forestry cameras were set at strategic high points around Central Oregon to spot new starts quickly.

In advance of the latest round of storms, two “heavy” Skycrane helicopters were positioned at Bend Airport, Kern confirmed Sunday.

Stormy weather also tested lines over the weekend on the 41-acre Tolo Mountain Fire on the Crescent Ranger District, which reached 20% containment Saturday. Meanwhile, a new fire, the Windigo Fire, about five miles north-northwest near Windigo Pass on the Umpqua National Forest quickly grew to 1,300 acres, prompting closure of the Pacific Crest Trail and other trails and forest roads in the area.

The Windigo Fire was burning in timber off Forest Service Road 60 on the Douglas-Klamath county line.