Locals return from Black Crater fire


Firefighters from Lake Oswego returned Tuesday from a five-day stint battling the 9,200-acre Black Crater fire in Sisters, Ore.

Through its membership in a Clackamas County strike force, Lake Oswego Fire Department supplied a fire engine and four firefighters to the effort last Thursday.

'Everybody sends one piece of equipment,' said Deputy Fire Marshall Gert Zoutendijk. 'It's our reserve fire engine that went.'

Zoutendijk said the department's first-line apparatus stayed in place during the loan and fire protection for Lake Oswego was unaffected. Wages for the deployed firefighters and other expenses for the trip will be reimbursed by the state.

He said Lake Oswego Fire loaned Lieutenant-Paramedic Troy Bany, Driver Engineer Brad Hensley, and firefighters Jeremy Langeliers and Russell Thackery to defend structures threatened by the Black Crater Fire last Thursday through Tuesday.

Zoutendijk said the Lake Oswego team was put straight to work after its arrival last Thursday, working 12 hours through the night before resting in a nearby camp.

'Normally they don't try or like to assign departments that just get there because they don't know the area, weather conditions and they just got done driving, but in this case they really needed them,' he said.

The crew defended residences and other structures in Sisters as residents were evacuated from more than 600 homes. The number of threatened residences had been reduced to 200 by Tuesday.

A second round of local personnel was scheduled to travel to Sisters on Monday, relieving the foursome already in place, but a 30 percent containment of the Black Crater Fire prompted state officials to demobilize some crews.

Zoutendijk spent several days battling the Black Crater Fire as a volunteer with the Newberg Fire Department. He joined a crew of firefighters defending a two-mile stretch of the fire's perimeter last weekend. He was also demobilized Tuesday.

The Black Crater Fire, started by lightening July 23, quickly engulfed thousands of acres in the Three Sisters Wilderness in Deschutes County. The fire was reported at 40 percent contained as of Wednesday.