It’s been several years since Sisters, a community that knows a thing or two about wildfire threats and evacuations, saw its last major conflagration. But that could change this week as the Shadow Lake Fire, which is burning about 15 miles west of town, grows. The fire spread more than a mile and a half on Tuesday under less than favorable firefighting conditions, growing by more than 800 acres to a total of roughly 5,500 acres.
Shadow Lake Operations Chief Mike Mataresse said firefighters are expecting an “extended” battle with the Shadow Lake fire that is burning primarily in the wilderness around Mt. Jefferson but also threatens the Big Lake Campground where firefighters have been digging lines and focusing suppression efforts recently. Mataresse and the incident management team addressed Sisters residents on Tuesday afternoon to update the community on the fire. While fire behavior remained stable early in the week, fire managers said they expected warm temperatures and winds out of the east to fan the flames. The fire has already prompted federal managers to close the Pacific Crest Trail at Santiam Pass.
There are roughly half a dozen other fires over 100 acres burning around Oregon. The biggest conflagration is the High Cascades Complex, the 100,00-plus acre fire burning primarily on the Warm Springs Reservation. That fire is now 70 percent contained. While residents and visitors are likely to see smoke plumes emanating from the area around Mt. Washington, the blaze is not expected to impact the Sisters Folk Festival, which is set for the coming weekend. “We do not expect any fire threat per se,” said Paul Ries, a public information officer working the fire. However, he said that it’s difficult to predict the possible impact of smoke as the winds shift.