Firefighters are holding the line on the Juniper Creek Fire that flared to life Sunday near Lake Billy Chinook. The fire forced the evacuation of about 20 properties and put hundreds more in the Three Rivers subdivision on standby.
The fire was detected about 11:00 a.m. Sunday a few miles south of Lake Billy Chinook. It raced through 106 acres of tinder dry brush, juniper and ponderosa pines before firefighters from multiple agencies built a control line around it and began putting water on hotspots.
The fire is about 16 miles north of Sisters, and a couple of miles southwest of the Three Rivers subdivision which has hundreds of homes, mostly vacation properties.
“We attempted some aircraft as well. Air attack was able to get overhead and with our smaller single engine aerial tanker planes, came and took a look at it. But with the smoky conditions we have in Central Oregon visibility was really poor for further tanker drops,” said Ben Duda, Oregon Department of Forestry public information officer.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. A human cause is suspected as there is no record of lightning in the area in recent days.
“We just got the dozer line around it last night. We are leaving it there until we can get some water on the edge of the fires and make sure those lines are held.
Containment level on the Juniper Creek fire was estimated at 30% as of Monday afternoon.
Evacuation levels were reduced to Level 2 throughout the Three Rivers area. That still is a “Get Set” evacuation notice.
The high and dry plateaus around Lake Billy Chinook have burned so many times over recent years that fire dispatchers have been forced to come up with new names for the fires.
In this hot, dry and fire-prone area, people who live nearby are accustomed to being ready to leave at a moment’s notice.