Petes Lake Fire Update | September 3, 2023

Fire Information: (541) 801-3564     

Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident-information/orwif-petes-lake-fire 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PetesLakeFireInfo 

Resources: 234 Total Personnel | 3 Hand Crews | 4 Dozers | 4 Helicopters |14 Engines | 5 Masticators | 2 Water tenders 

Central Oregon – The Petes Lake Fire was started by a lightning strike on Friday, August 25, near the border of the McKenzie River Ranger District of the Willamette National Forest and the Bend Fort-Rock Ranger District of the Deschutes National Forest in the Mink Lake Basin area of the Three Sisters Wilderness. The fire has burned 320 acres and is burning in the Willamette National Forest five miles west of Elk Lake.  

The cooler weather with occasional showers has limited fire spread in the rugged and difficult to access Wilderness area. It has also allowed the firefighters to focus on fire mitigation measures. Along the Cascade Lakes Highway between Lava Lake and Elk Lake, smaller trees and brush near the road have been cut and chipped to create shaded fuel breaks. Heavy equipment was used to remove dead trees (within 200’ from the edge of the road). Although there is still much more work to do, the shaded fuel break adds to the mitigation work initiated in response to the 2022 Cedar Creek Fire and helps reduce the threat of wildfire outside of the Wilderness area. The Cedar Creek Fire became active in September 2022, and burned over 112,000 acres in the Deschutes and Willamette National Forests.   

Yesterday: Fire crews and heavy equipment operators continued to improve the shaded fuel break along the highway near Elk Lake. Specialized heavy equipment arrived that was better suited for removing dead and down trees. The structure protection team continued to assess structures, contact homeowners and work on the protection plan. The plan will help suppression crews prepare for predicted weather pattern changes next week and the potential future threat of fire.  

Today: There are still isolated areas burning within the fire perimeter. Although potential for burning has decreased, the fire could experience some moderate heat along the edges. To protect values at risk such as structures, campgrounds, and other recreation sites, fire managers will continue working on the shaded fuel break between Lava Lake and Elk Lake. A pilot car will be used to guide vehicles through the area and wait times could be longer in duration than the last few days to facilitate work along the highway. For those driving in the area, please be patient and follow instructions from flaggers.   

Weather: Cooler temperatures, higher relative humidity and low winds will continue to moderate fire behavior. Today, there could be light rain in the afternoon and possible increasing winds. Looking ahead to next week, the weather is expected to be drier and more typical for this time of year.  

Evacuations: The Deschutes County Sheriff lifted the Level 1 Evacuation Notice for the areas east of the Cascade Lakes Highway around Elk and Lava Lakes. The Level 3 (Go Now) Evacuation Notice is still in place for all areas west of the Cascade Lakes Highway from the Lucky Lake Trailhead north to the Mirror Lake Trail. This includes the areas around Lucky Lake, Leech Lake, Doris Lake, Blow Lake and Mirror Lakes. Evacuation notices and updates can be found at: www.deschutes.org/emergency.  

Closures: The closure order on the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests for the Petes Lake Fire remains in place and information can be found at: fs.usda.gov/detail/deschutes/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD1134682.  

Resorts along the Cascade Lakes Highway remain open for business, though visitors may encounter delays with road flaggers and pilot cars. 

Safety: The public can help prevent new wildfires by observing current public fire use restrictions and avoiding other common ignition causes. 

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