Launch Fire Causes Campsite Evacuation

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[UPDATE: 6:52p.m.] South Central Oregon Fire Management leaders said fire crews are being pulled off the fire lines because of lighting. They said as soon as the situation becomes safe again, the crews will move back in. Fire Management officials said they don’t expect it to grow too much more at this time. There is a solid line around the fire. Acres burning are still around 100.

FOUR MILE LAKE, Ore. — Two helicopters made dozens of drops Tuesday morning as the Launch Fire burns more than a hundred acres. The fire is burning just on the other side of Four Mile Lake’s campsites.

“When we first got here, we started setting up camp and then a helicopter landed right out here out in front of us, started sucking up water. So, we got a real good view of that!” said Mickey Bender as he took in the view from his campsite.

While campers were on standby for evacuations Tuesday morning, Mary Lou Zielinski went for early swim.

“It’s exciting, I could see it much better from the middle of the lake,” said Zielinski.

Zielinski said she frequents the lake and typically is the only swimmer. Tuesday she took in the action while treading water.

“The smoke was burning really badly and the trees. You could see some fire coming up from the trees,” said Zielinski.

The cause of the fire is officially undetermined, although some campers believe it to be human caused after seeing a campfire in that area the night before the fire was reported. Fire crews and resources have to be escorted by boat to the fire, passing fisherman Jim Fuller along the way.

“The amount of devastation showing here from what the little bit of fire has done. But, it’s absolutely amazing watching these helicopter guys work,” said Fuller.

While the firefight will continue, use of the lake by visitors will not. Evacuations are now in place until it is safe to return.