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Moccasin Hill fire forces evacuations

July 16, 2014 by

Despite thunderstorms rolling through Lake County last week, few fires were reported in south central Oregon necessitating a response from Interagency Fire Crews, but the Moccasin Hill fire has grown to concerning levels.

One fire was reported on Monday, July 7 in Klamath County on private lands, but was kept within less than one acre. A reconnaissance flight revealed additional smoke following thunderstorms on Wednesday, July 9, which was also kept to within one acre. An additional storm front yielded five new fires on Thursday, July 10, the largest of which was a six-acre burn near Fort Rock, and five additional spark-ups on Friday, July 11 resulting in less than one acre burns.

However the good luck did not last, as a fire was reported on Sunday, July 13 in the Moccasin Hills subdivision north of Sprague River, quickly growing from 75 acres to well over 2,900 acres as of Monday, July 14. The fire had consumed six homes and 14 structures as of Monday afternoon, forcing the evacuation of over 100 residents. The American Red Cross set up a shelter at the Sprague River Community Center.

Due to the complexity of the Moccasin Hill Fire, the South Central Oregon Fire Management Type III Incident Management Team has been ordered to manage suppression efforts for the fire, which is burning on private lands in heavy timber and brush. Multiple aircraft and engines are on the scene working to control the blaze, while the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

While the Moccasin Hill fire rages, the overall amount of fires resulting from storms was small in comparison to similar storm fronts in late June that sparked nearly 50 fires throughout the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) area.

“Although the rainfall south central Oregon received from recent storms is a welcome aid for firefighters, it still was not enough to help with drought conditions in the area,” said Lakeview Interagency Fire Center Mgr. Kim Karalus.

SCOMFP comprises all federal and state wild land fire responders in south central Oregon, including BLM Lakeview District, Fremont-Winema National Forest, Klamath-Lake District Oregon Department of Forestry, Crater Lake National Park, Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Complex and Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

To report a fire call 911 or the Lakeview Interagency Fire Center at 541-947-6315. Additional information is available online at www.scofmp.org/lifc.shtml.

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