Agency: Pole Creek fire tipoff disregarded

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Associated Press

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 7:08 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 26 at 11:02 AM

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A Forest Service leader says it was "human error" when a dispatcher disregarded a caller who reported a wisp of smoke in early September that turned into the Pole Creek fire near Sisters.

The Bend Bulletin reports (http://bit.ly/W1ZpIW ) a couple that has a record of spotting fires early called about 6:30 a.m. to report the blaze.

But it says firefighters didn't mobilize to fight it until nearly three hours later, after a lookout spotted it.

The fire spread to 40 square miles, destroyed four cars at a trailhead and for weeks spread morning smoke in Central Oregon that often reached unhealthy levels. Fighting it cost $18 million.

Deschutes National Forest Supervisor John Allen says the call came at the end of a shift and other fire incidents appeared more urgent.

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