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GOLD BEACH, Ore. — An organization of environmentalist campers at Lobster Creek Youth Camp were located close by a small fire that quickly grew out of control, according to a statement from the Curry County Sheriff's Office (CCSO).
That wildfire, now known as the Lobster Creek Fire, currently burns on about 450 acres and is only 10 percent contained at the last report. The Youth Camp lies just 17 miles east of Gold Beach.
911 calls from the Youth Camp began coming in to dispatch just before 2 p.m. on Sunday, according to CCSO. Those calls were coming from a large group of adults and youth associated with the Next Generation Climate Justice Action Camp—with most of the youths ranging from fourteen to seventeen year old.
The callers said that there was a fire in the meadow below the camp, and that they were unsuccessful in trying to put out the flames.
While deputies headed to the scene, CCSO notified the Coos Forest Protective Association (CFPA), the Gold Beach Fire Department, and Cedar Valley/North Bank Fire. Cal Ore Life Flight also sent out three ambulances to stage in case of injuries or heat exhaustion from responding firefighters.
Sheriff's deputies arrived first, evacuating the campers and camp hosts. Meanwhile, strong winds pushed the fire to grow quickly, spotting ahead of the main fire as it burned its way along the creek.
Although fire crews immediately arrived and began fighting the fire, it continued to spread into the Rayonier Timber Property and jumped the main Lobster Creek Road.
CLICK HERE for our updated coverage on the Lobster Creek Fire and firefighting efforts in the area.
The campers were instructed to gather at the Port of Gold Beach, and deputies went to interview them regarding the cause of the fire. According to CCSO, the campers did not provide any "detailed answers how the fire started," having received advice from their attorney. Deputies did find it clear that the campers had attempted to extinguish the fire initially, however.
Deputies were only provided very basic information from a few campers on what they saw and any efforts to extinguish the fire, according to CCSO.
Within a day, the Lobster Creek Fire grew to cover nearly 450 acres. An Incident Management Team from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) arrived and took command of all operations. According to CCSO, that team "felt confident that fire crews would have the fire under control quickly."
Fire investigators are still trying to determine the exact cause of the fire, and CCSO says that the information will be released when there is a definitive answer. Previous statements from CFPA and ODF have made it clear that they believe the fire to be human-caused.
The Civil Liberties Defense Center, which organizes the Next Generation Climate Justice Action Camp, previously had an event posted on their website regarding their 2018 weekend event at Lobster Creek Youth Camp, but it has since been removed.
On top of crediting local fire agencies, their own dispatchers and deputies who quickly responded to the fire, CCSO lauded personnel from the local logging companies who used their equipment to save the Lobster Creek Youth Camp from being swallowed by the fire.