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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 22,749

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Fire at the Last Chance Opal Mine today (PICS)

I spotted the smoke on the lower eastern aspect of Sixteen Butte - 6.125 miles from my lookout tower - at about 12:45 today. The wispy white smoke billowed up quickly as the fire grew in size, creeping through light fuels. By the time the first fire crew arrived - about 30 minutes later - the fire was sized at 1/2 acre.

The wind picked up speed, and the fire was soon spotting (with trees torching) and grew to about three acres. We ended up with four fire engines, a water tender, a hand crew, a fuels unit, and a USFS law enforcement unit on the fire. Arson is suspected. Evidently the mine, which has operated the last three years, is now defunct.

It is totally dark now. The last engines just left the fire for quarters in Bend, the fire contained-controlled-mopped and bedded down for the night.
All in all, a gratifying day. I was able to nail the fire position at the opal mine, which meant the crews wasted no time looking for the fire.

At 1 PM PDT the fire was about 1/2 acre

At 2 PM PDT the fire was estimated to be at three acres and growing with spotting and individual tree torching (visible here)

Flag Day at the lookout tower (with a fire)

Today is flag day, and the U.S. flag is flying high on the lookout's Lodgepole pine flagpole. The wind is really whipping it now (8 PM PDT).

We had a near-acre fire today (0.8), about 23 miles from me on an azimuth of 329-degrees. Another lookout tower crossed with me on the difficult-to-see smoke (looked like dust), and we nailed it!

I was just on the phone with yet another lookout, and a small bobcat ran through the manzanita about 100 yards east of me. Of course, my camera has the wide-angle lens attached.

Flag Day at the lookout

A big campfire about four miles away last Sunday morning

The Three Sisters (left), Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Hood (right)
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