LAKEVIEW, Ore. — The Cougar Peak Fire northwest of Lakeview has grown to roughly 3,200 acres with no containment, fire officials said in a Wednesday update.
The fire was first reported on Tuesday afternoon, growing quickly among elevated winds and dry conditions. It is located about 15 miles to the northwest of Lakeview, burning primarily to the northeast within the Lakeview Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and on Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands
Officials said that the fire remained active overnight, with fire crews observing running, torching and spotting in mixed conifer and brush.
The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) says that numerous wildland firefighting resources are already attacking the fire, with more requested. A SCOFMP Type 3 Incident Management Team is currently managing the fire, but a Type 2 Team is expected to arrive in the area later on Wednesday.
"Smoke from the fire is highly visible along Oregon State Highway 140 between Lakeview and Quartz Mountain, as well as along U.S. Highway 395," SCOFMP said. "There are expected to be continued smoke impacts today to the communities in the Summer Lake area, including Paisley."
Drivers are advised to use caution in the area due to firefighter traffic and the possibility of low visibility from the smoke. Area residents and visitors are also asked to avoid traveling on Forest Roads near the Cougar Peak Fire, including Forest Road 28 and Forest Road 3870, also known as Cottonwood Road.
Recreation sites in the area are closed, including Upper Cottonwood Campground and Cottonwood Creek Trailhead. This includes a Level 3 "GO" evacuation order for Lower Cottonwood Road north to Forest Road 3870-041, and a Level 1 "Get ready" notice for Forest Road 28, from the Forest Boundary northwest to Cox Flat.
There is a Red Flag Warning in effect from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday for strong gusty winds with low relative humidity. Winds are predicted to be 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 to 40 mph, and 12 to 15 percent humidity. SCOFMP said that this is likely to affect fire behavior this afternoon and evening.
"Fire danger remains 'Extreme' in Lake and Klamath counties," SCOFMP said. "Extremely dry fuels and seasonal winds can make even a small spark rapidly grow into a large wildfire. These fires can be destructive, resulting in evacuations, damage to property and natural resources, and affects public and firefighter safety."