The Bessie Butte fire was reported by Lava Butte Lookout at noon today, burning about 8 miles south of Bend. Fire officials responded quickly – sending seven engines, a handcrew, a dozer, a water tender, and three airtankers. The fire grew to 50 acres before crews stopped it’s progress with a dozer line around the fire. Crews will spend the rest of the day and night finishing the containment line and mopping up. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
China Hat Rd. (FS Rd 18), and FS 1815 off Arnold Market Rd. will remain closed at least through tonight to allow fire traffic to move safely around the area. Fire officials will evaluate the closure in the morning, and lift it as soon as possible.
While the temperature today was somewhat moderate, long term forecasts show an extended period of hot and dry weather. With resources stretched thin as more and more fires are reported around the region, fire officials want to remind visitors to public lands to use caution. Human-caused fires can often be prevented by a little extra attention to detail – please make sure campfires (if allowed) are fully extinguished when no one is there to watch them, avoid parking or driving over dry vegetation, and don’t use fireworks or exploding targets! And beginning this Tuesday, campfires will be limited to a small number of designated and developed campgrounds on the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest, Crooked River National Grassland and Prineville BLM. If you’re heading out to any of these areas, find out if you can have a campfire and plan to use a gas stove if you can’t!
Crews arrive on Bessie Butte Fire this afternoon.