Lightning causes fire in Three Rivers area; homes evacuated
- Holly M. Gill
- Madras Pioneer - News
Pickup, utility trailer burned
A rapidly growing fire caused the evacuation of nearly 100 homes in the Three Rivers area on Monday.
The lightning-caused Geneva 12 fire, first spotted south of Lake Billy Chinook just after noon, had grown to 1,337 acres by early evening. Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue (formerly Three Rivers) ordered the evacuation of the homes, which were mostly unoccupied, vacation homes.
"The community was saved by quick work by the Jefferson County Fire and Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue," said Brian Huff, of Madras, deputy state fire marshal, who was called to the scene by Don Colfels, Lake Chinook's fire chief.
Fire officials were immediately concerned that the fire might jump Graham Road and threaten homes. "We had to do a back fire right at the south side of the road, where the fire was coming from," said Huff. "On the north side of Graham is where the community of Three Rivers is."
In addition to Lake Chinook Fire and Rescue, members of task force 3, including Jefferson County, Warm Springs, Crook County and Crooked River Ranch were first on the scene. Task force 1 from Bend, Sunriver and LaPine, and task force 2, from Redmond, Cloverdale, Black Butte and Sisters were also called in for structure protection for the community.
"We had it completely lined when I left last night," said Huff, who was on scene until about 11 p.m.
The Geneva 12 fire, which started southwest of Three Rivers and burned to the northeast, was the second fire of the day for Lake Chinook, which had already put out another small lightning fire.
The Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service provided resources for the fire, which was about 30 percent contained Tuesday morning. Full containment is expected by Aug. 13, according to information from the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center.
While no structures within Three Rivers were lost or damaged, a pickup and utility trailer were burned near Geneva Road.
On Tuesday morning, more than 125 firefighters were battling the fire, with additional resources expected to increase that number to over 200 by that afternoon. Two helicopters were being used to put out hotspots.
Although there were no road closures in effect on Tuesday, fire officials were asking that people avoid the area. Homeowners and residents should drive slowly and watch for fire-related traffic.