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Desolation Fire

Unit Information

Ochoco National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
3160 NE Third Street
Prineville, OR 97754

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Desolation Fire was a holdover from lightning earlier in the week, and wasn’t discovered sooner due to heavy smoke across Central Oregon. The fire was flown on Saturday and estimated at 1 acre, burning in the 2000 Hash Rock Fire scar. Aircraft put water on the fire on Saturday. The fire was one of many new fires across Central Oregon. The Forest decided not to send in firefighters on foot out of safety concerns due to the abundance of snags surrounding the fire.

It started as a ground fire, burning in dead and down timber and brush up the Mill Creek drainage toward Whistler Point. On Sunday, aircraft put water on the fire again. Monday morning the fire was estimated at 25 acres, still in the drainage and still a ground fire. Monday afternoon as fire behavior increased, heavy air tankers delivered 7 loads of retardant.

Tuesday morning, the fire was estimated at 150 acres, still within the drainage and still a ground fire. All Tuesday, air tankers and super scoopers worked the fire, boxing it in with retardant and water drops. Tuesday afternoon the fire experienced heavy winds with gusts up to 30 MPH out of the northwest. The fire made a run south toward Highway 26 and Mark’s Creek subdivision. Tuesday afternoon, the Forest issued its first closure order for Wildcat Trail and Whistler Campground.

The ridgetop above Mt. Bachelor Academy was a predetermined trigger point for evacuation notices to local residents. At 8 pm Tuesday night, Crook County issued Level 2 (Get Set) evacuation notices for around 30 homes in the Mark’s Creek area. Fire crews worked through the night to build containment line and burn out along Forest Road 200 behind the academy. Construction of containment line started several weeks earlier during the Belknap fire. Crews tied together previous work to build 3 to 5 miles of line between the fire and the highway that night.

On Wednesday, fire size was estimated at around 2,000 acres. No homes or structures burned the night before. A Central Oregon Type 3 IMT took command of the fire and resources starting arriving to bolster containment efforts. Heavy air tankers continued working the fire all day. Workers with feller bunchers and other equipment also continued construction of fuel breaks along FR 27, 2730 and 2745 to the north. That afternoon, the Forest expanded its closure to include all of the wilderness and all land up to FR 27. By day’s end, around 150 personnel were assigned to the incident.

On Thursday morning, an infrared flight mapped the fire at 1,568 acres. Most of the previous day’s growth was to the north into the wilderness. 195 people are currently assigned to the incident. Work today continued along planned containment lines and removing fuels around the Mark’s Creek subdivision.

As of Tuesday, the fire is estimated at 4,512 acres and 20 percent contained.

Basic Information

Current as of
Incident TypeWildfire
Date of OriginSaturday September 09th, 2017 approx. 11:45 AM
Location20 miles NE of Prineville, OR in the Mill Creek Wilderness
Incident CommanderJeff Priest
Incident DescriptionDesolation Fire Was A Holdover From Lightning Earlier In The Week, And Wasn’t Discovered Sooner Due To Heavy Smoke Across Central Oregon. The Fire Was Flown On Saturday And Estimated At 1 Acre, Burning In The 2000 Hash Rock Fire Scar. Aircraft Put Water On The Fire On Saturday. The Fire Was One Of Many New Fires Across Central Oregon. The Forest Decided Not To Send In Firefighters On Foot Out Of Safety Concerns Due To The Abundance Of Snags Surrounding The Fire. It Started As A Ground Fire, Burning In Dead And Down Timber And Brush Up The Mill Creek Drainage Toward Whistler Point. On Sunday, Aircraft Put Water On The Fire Again. Monday Morning The Fire Was Estimated At 25 Acres, Still In The Drainage And Still A Ground Fire. Monday Afternoon As Fire Behavior Increased, Heavy Air Tankers Delivered 7 Loads Of Retardant. Tuesday Morning, The Fire Was Estimated At 150 Acres, Still Within The Drainage And Still A Ground Fire. All Tuesday, Air Tankers And Super Scoopers Worked The Fire, Boxing It In With Retardant And Water Drops. Tuesday Afternoon The Fire Experienced Heavy Winds With Gusts Up To 30 Mph Out Of The Northwest. The Fire Made A Run South Toward Highway 26 And Mark’s Creek Subdivision. Tuesday Afternoon, The Forest Issued Its First Closure Order For Wildcat Trail And Whistler Campground. The Ridgetop Above Mt. Bachelor Academy Was A Predetermined Trigger Point For Evacuation Notices To Local Residents. At 8 Pm Tuesday Night, Crook County Issued Level 2 (get Set) Evacuation Notices For Around 30 Homes In The Mark’s Creek Area. Fire Crews Worked Through The Night To Build Containment Line And Burn Out Along Forest Road 200 Behind The Academy. Construction Of Containment Line Started Several Weeks Earlier During The Belknap Fire. Crews Tied Together Previous Work To Build 3 To 5 Miles Of Line Between The Fire And The Highway That Night. On Wednesday, Fire Size Was Estimated At Around 2,000 Acres. No Homes Or Structures Burned The Night Before. A Central Oregon Type 3 Imt Took Command Of The Fire And Resources Starting Arriving To Bolster Containment Efforts. Heavy Air Tankers Continued Working The Fire All Day. Workers With Feller Bunchers And Other Equipment Also Continued Construction Of Fuel Breaks Along Fr 27, 2730 And 2745 To The North. That Afternoon, The Forest Expanded Its Closure To Include All Of The Wilderness And All Land Up To Fr 27. By Day’s End, Around 150 Personnel Were Assigned To The Incident. On Thursday Morning, An Infrared Flight Mapped The Fire At 1,568 Acres. Most Of The Previous Day’s Growth Was To The North Into The Wilderness. 195 People Are Currently Assigned To The Incident. Work Today Continued Along Planned Containment Lines And Removing Fuels Around The Mark’s Creek Subdivision.
Coordinates44.479 latitude, -120.498 longitude

Current Situation

Total Personnel34
Size4,512 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained30%
Fuels Involved

dead and down timber, shrubs, brush