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Petes Lake Fire Update | September 5, 2023

Fire Information: (541) 801-3564     

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/PetesLakeFireInfo 

Resources: 228 Total Personnel | 3 Hand Crews | 3 Dozers | 4 Helicopters | 8 Engines | 8 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 324 acres and is located in the Willamette National Forest, five miles west of Elk Lake.  

The sunny weather yesterday allowed fire managers to conduct a reconnaissance helicopter flight over the fire. The fire continues to smolder and creep in areas that did not receive measurable rainfall. However, the predicted warmer temperatures and lower relative humidity will increase the potential for burning.  

The control objectives for this fire include forest fuel reduction with crews and mechanized equipment. These measures are needed to reduce the threat to infrastructure along the Cascade Lake Highway, including lodges, campgrounds, cabins, restaurants and boat launches.   

To ensure that work can be completed as safely and efficiently as possible, Cascade Lakes Highway will be closed from Elk Lake to Lava Lake from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. for the next three days.
Drivers can detour around the closure using the primitive forest road, Elk Lake Loop / Forest Road 4625. A marked pilot car will be used to guide vehicles through other sections of the work areas. Motorists are asked to stay with the pilot car and not turn around or stop for photos. Additional traffic cones, signs and road guards are in place to increase safety. Cooperation from the public will help fire crews and equipment operators complete this work quickly and with minimal impact to local businesses. Fire managers thank the public for their patience.

The shaded fuel break work along the Cascades Lake Highway is expected to continue for several more days, but travelers can avoid work delays by driving around Forest Road 45 (River Summit Drive) to Forest Road 40. The heavy equipment requires occasional use of the highway to fell trees and transport brush to temporary landings, where the slash is processed, loaded and hauled off. The masticators fling wood debris and cannot be operated safely near traffic.  

Weather: In the next few days, the weather is expected to become warmer, with less humidity and more typical for this time of year. The wind will be out of the west around 5 – 8 mph with 13 – 15 mph gusts in exposed areas, which is more favorable for fire spread.  

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. The Wanoga and Kapka SnoParks are being used by firefighting resources and are closed to the public.  

Safety: The public can help by obeying the National Forest trail closures and following the detour instructions in the shaded fuel break work areas. There will be a stronger law enforcement presence in the area to enforce trail closures and help firefighters continue their work safely. Be aware of your surroundings and follow all fire restrictions.  

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