Fire crews expect Shadow Lake blaze 'to take a nap'

Fire crews expect Shadow Lake blaze 'to take a nap'
Burnout ahead of Shadow Lake fire by Mike Matarrese

FINN ROCK, Ore. - Firefighters expect the Shadow Lake fire near Mount Washington "to take a nap" the next few days after rapidly expanding from a few hundred acres to 10,000 since late August - over 15 square miles.

A public meeting on the fire is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at McKenzie High School Gym, 51187 Blue River Dr., in Finn Rock.

The Shadow Lake fire started Aug. 28 when lightning storms swept through the area.

Firefighters worked to contain the fire, but dry, hot weather helped push the fire over hundreds and then thousands of more acres forcing evacuations of campgrounds over Labor Day weekend.

Smoke from the fire also caused traffic concerns on Highways 126 and 20 across the Central Oregon Cascades.

Firefighters now expect winds out of the west to bring lower temperatures and increase the humidity, allowing the fire to "take a nap for the first time" according to Todd Rankin, a Fire Behavior Specialist.

Rankin said winds out of the west/southwest over the next few days will push the fire back on itself. The weather will send smoke towards Suttle Lake, Black Butte Ranch and Sisters.

Firefighters also got a helping hand from lava fields, which stymied the fire's progress.

On Sunday, firefighters burned more pockets of fuel to secure the fireline on the north and northeast portions of the fire in anticipation of a push from southwest winds.

The fire is considered 25 percent contained. More than 70 structures are threatened by the fire, but firefighters have contingency plans and equipment in place in case the fire challenges fire lines on all sides.