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Evacuation levels lowered as fire crews work to contain wildfire near Beatty

Photo courtesy Christopher Trotchie

The Ponina Fire is now estimated at 1,400 acres with 10 percent containment.

Posted: Apr 19, 2021 10:46 AM
Updated: Apr 19, 2021 3:51 PM

BEATTY, Ore. — Forestry officials say that evacuation levels have been lowered north of Beatty as fire crews work to contain the Ponina Fire, though two structures have been destroyed.

Firefighters made "great progress" overnight on the Ponina Fire, officials said, raising containment to 10 percent. The fire is now estimated at 1,400 acres.


Photo courtesy Christopher Trotchie

The fire was first reported around 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. After an initial response from firefighters, a local Type 3 Incident Management Team took over control of efforts on Monday morning.

"Yesterday firefighters were assisted by two air tankers from San Bernardino that came up from California, which were a great help in the firefighting," officials said. "Two local interagency Hotshot Crews will be starting work on the fire this morning. Additional resources will be on the fire today."

According to the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP), two structures were lost to the flames. Nevertheless, the Klamath County Sheriff's Office has dropped evacuations in the area to Level 2 after Sunday night's progress, allowing residents to return home if they wish. They are warned to be prepared for evacuation again if conditions change.

"Smoke is highly visible in the surrounding area, including Oregon State Highway 140," officials said. "There will be increased fire traffic in the area, including on Hwy 140 and the Sycan Road. Travelers in the area should use caution, reduce speed and be prepared for possible delays."

The Ponina Fire burns in an area with narrow roads, and the public has been advised to avoid the fire area for their own safety and that of responding fire crews.

"Temperatures continue to be unseasonably warm and summerlike," officials said. "Relative humidity is expected to remain very low, in the teens. Fuels remain dormant and dry, meaning fire can carry quickly. The public is urged to use extreme caution with fire on private and wildlands, especially as the area is already seeing early wildfires."

Klamath County suspended open burning last week, and that suspension is expected to continue amid the current dry conditions.

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