HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Firefighters made progress Friday on corralling stubborn lightning-sparked wildfires burning high in the Cascade Range from Mount Hood to Southern Oregon, despite hot, dry weather.

Interactive Map: Current NW &US Wildfires

Gov. John Kitzhaber boarded an Oregon Army National Guard Blackhawk helicopter in Portland and flew over the northern area of the Dollar Lake fire that is burning within 4,600 acres on the north side of Mount Hood.

Kitzhaber said his primary concern is contamination of the Bull Run Watershed, which supplies 900,000 people in Portland with water. The watershed is three miles from the outer edge of the fire, which began on Aug. 27.

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Jeff Pendleton of the U.S. Forest Service, incident commander for the Dollar Lake fire, said early predictions of strong gusts from the east didn't affect the fire as badly as firefighters feared. Pendleton said the fire's northwestern edge was still of greatest concern.

There's good burn control, Pendleton said. The east winds did kick in, but they didn't affect us as much as it could have.

Crews have been focusing on the north and west edges of the blaze, which is three miles from the watershed. The fire is 25 percent contained.

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A thermal inversion, in which a layer of hot air keeps cooler, smoky air closer to the ground, cut off oxygen to the fire and kept it from expanding.

Smoke was visible from the town of Hood River, about 16 miles north of the fire. It's an area that has become accustomed to the recent fires. A sign at the Westside Fire Department read: Fire gives the test before the lesson.

Though the weather was forecast to be hot and dry through Sunday, wet conditions left after a rainy spring and cool summer have made it difficult for crews to ignite fires intentionally to remove fuel along fire lines, said spokesman Mike Heilman.

As our fire behavior specialist said yesterday, it's like you took a wet sponge and tried to put your Bic lighter to it, he said.

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Recreation areas, roads and trails, including sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, were closed around Lolo Pass on Mount Hood, and Big Lake and Meadow Lake outside Sisters.

On the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs reservation, crews had the Badger Butte fire 25 percent contained as well at 2,276 acres, said fire spokesman Mike Stearly. A section of the Pacific Crest Trail near the fire remained closed.

Also on the Mount Hood National Forest, a fire ignited by lightning Aug. 26 in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness has grown to 900 acres. Steep and rocky ground, lack of safe evacuation routes, and extreme fire behavior prompted fire bosses to take crews off the fire Wednesday. A new management team will decide how to proceed.

Real-time Maps: Air quality | Visibility | Wind | Temps

The Shadow Lake fire burning on the Mount Washington Wilderness 15 miles northwest of Sisters grew to 7,300 acres by Saturday morning, but remained within fire lines while crews tried to steer the head of the blaze into lava fields where it would die for lack of fuel. Smoke was expected to make driving hazardous on Highway 126.The fire was 15 percent contained, with a crew of nearly 700.

Firefighters working the High Cascades Complex, including a blaze on the Warm Springs reservation, estimated the wildfires had burned nearly 108,000 acres by Saturday morning.

Crews expected to have the 467-acre Little Butte fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest 12 miles northeast of Ashland fully contained by Sunday, said fire spokesman Brian Ballou.

Dry, hot weather was expected to continue throughout the weekend, but a cool down was predicted for the middle of next week.


Associated Press Environmental Writer Jeff Barnard contributed to this report.

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