Evacuation lifted near Central Ore. wildfire

Evacuation lifted near Central Ore. wildfire

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by Teresa Blackman, kgw.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on August 6, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 7 at 4:26 PM

BEND, Ore. – The evacuation of about 100 homes south of Lake Billy Chinook was lifted as crews gained ground on the wildfire burning in the area Tuesday.

The new fire emerged Sunday, after a lightning storm that passed through Central Oregon.

The Geneva 12 Fire had grown to 1,600 acres by Monday evening.

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It had also crept dangerously close to the Three Rivers subdivision, which was evacuated.  The subdivision has about 100 homes, most of which are vacation properties, according to the Lake Chinook Fire Department.

Only 15 people were home at the time of the evacuation, including year-round resident Larry Lolley.

"We chose to live out here in a fire danger area. I don't think we get panicky but we all try and be careful," Lolley said.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday.

Firefighters from the Lake Chinook Fire Department were battling the blaze with the help of an Oregon Department of Forestry airtanker, helicopters, seven wildland fire engines, a bulldozer and a water tender.

There was no estimate on exactly when it might be contained but officials at the fire coordination center said crews were able to dig a trench around the blaze. They were optimistic that should help the containment effort a great deal.

This fire was among four major blazes in central and southern Oregon Tuesday. Fire officials warn that during intense heat periods, about 69-percent of wildfires in Oregon are human caused. That includes fires sparked by tossed cigarettes or logging.

"What's coming at us is a big, dry, hot system coming in and any fires that are still burning, it's going to dry out faster," explained Jeree Mills, a spokeswoman for the Northwest Interagency Fire Coordination Center.

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