Wildfire at southwest edge of county up to 800 acres

by: Contributed - A helicopter prepares to make a drop on the Link Fire Monday.

General Editor
   July 9, 2003 — The Link Fire, which erupted Saturday two miles south of Suttle Lake in the Deschutes National Forest, has closed several area campgrounds.
    Jefferson County Sheriff Jack Jones and Camp Sherman Reserve Deputy Dave Blann helped evacuate some 200 holiday campers from Camp Tamarack, Dark Lake and other camps cradling the Deschutes and Jefferson county lines.
    As of Tuesday, the Link Fire was 50 percent contained at 800 acres in size.
    The Blue Mountain Incident Management Team, under the direction of Mike Morcom, was called in to manage the fire, and Morcom said the initial attack by Central Oregon firefighters during the first 24 hours helped tremendously to control the fire.
    The blaze is burning in and area of mixed conifer and beetle-killed lodgepole pine. The cause is under investigation, and because of the lack of lightening strikes in the area, human cause is likely, officials indicated.
    More crews have arrived to reinforce the fire line for a total of 469 firefighters and support personnel, including four bulldozers, 16 20-person hand crews, three helicopters, 10 engines, and seven water tenders. Air tankers are on standby at Redmond Air Center.
    It was estimated the fire would be contained by Saturday.
    Although winds had picked up, firebreak areas created last summer during the Cache Mountain Fire to the east helped firefighters hold back the Link Fire flames. The Cache Mountain Fire encroached on Black Butte Ranch, forcing the evacuation of its residents and eventually destroying two homes before it was stopped.
    Erratic winds and low humidity kept firefighters, air tankers and helicopters chasing spot fires Monday afternoon on the blaze’s southwest flank.
    They reported long-distance spotting, and individual and group tree torching.
    Firefighters limited the Link Fire’s growth Monday afternoon to the south and southwest flanks. Crews continued working through the night building containment lines and cooling hotspots.
    Recreational areas closed as of Tuesday include Camp Tamarack, Scout Lake camp and day use areas, and areas in the Meadow Lakes basin.
    Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District firefighters will remain at Dark Lake’s Camp Tamarack to protect structures at the private youth camp.
    The Suttle Lake Campground, Suttle Lake Resort, Suttle Lake Methodist Camp, Camp Davidson and Camp Caldera remain open.
    Motorists were cautioned that smoke continues to be present in the area and they should be careful when driving, reducing speed and using headlights to alleviate the hazards that smoke creates.
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