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Fire crews line 293-acre Taylor Butte Fire east of Chiloquin

The fire was found on Saturday afternoon following a flurry of lightning strikes, according to Forest Service officials.

Posted: Jun 5, 2019 5:00 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2019 9:18 AM

CHILOQUIN, Ore. — Following thunderstorms over the weekend, fire crews with the U.S. Forest Service discovered and responded to three wildfires sparked by lightning, including the now 293-acre Taylor Butte Fire.

The Taylor Butte Fire burns about 20 miles east of Chiloquin in the Fremont-Winema National Forest. It was discovered on Saturday afternoon in a remote area near the headwaters of the Williamson River, south of Head of the River Campground.

"It is one of three confirmed lightning fires on the Forest this week," USFS said in a statement.

According to the statement, forestry crews have found current weather conditions ideal for allowing the fire to burn and "achieve desired ecological conditions and contributing to a more resilient landscape" — essentially treating the lightning-sparked fire as an impromptu prescribed burn. Warm and dry weather, with more cold and wet weather predicted later in the week, have helped those conditions.

“This fire is burning in an area that hasn’t seen forest treatments in more than 40 years,” said Chiloquin and Chemult District Ranger Judd Lehman. “It presents a great opportunity to ease fire back into a fire-adapted ecosystem and create a more resilient landscape that will make future fires safer to suppress when conditions might not be as ideal.”

By Tuesday night, USFS said that crews had lined the fire's perimeter and were "conducting ignitions" from those lines. Wind gusts of up to 15-20 miles per hour are anticipated this evening as firefighters continue to hold the lines.

While USFS expects smoke to be visible in the area — possibly settling into the Chiloquin and Sprague River areas — they hope that the wind will pick up and shift that smoke away later on Wednesday evening.

“With a natural ignition from recent lightning, and the perfect conditions in place, we appreciate the opportunity to get some additional restoration work done and reduce the risk of wildfire in this area this summer and into the future.” Lehman said. “There is less smoke being produced through this mild to moderate fire compared to large fires at the height of fire season.”

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