Crews face high winds in central Oregon forest fire

PORTLAND, Ore. — Strong, gusty winds increased the size of a wildfire burning near the Central Oregon town of Sisters on Monday but also pushed the flames into the Three Sisters Wilderness and away from populated areas, fire officials said.

The Pole Creek Fire’s size was estimated at nearly 7 square miles, or 4,300 acres, late Monday. About 300 firefighters were battling the flames.

At a packed community meeting Monday evening, officials said that colder overnight temperatures expected in the area would help and the winds were expected to keep pushing the fire away from populated areas. Still, Deschutes County Sheriff Larry Blanton said authorities were preparing in case winds did push the fire closer to Sisters.

On Sunday, authorities evacuated hikers and campers from the fire area. Four vehicles were burned at a trailhead.

The fire area is about six miles southwest of Sisters. Its cause is unknown.

Firefighters reported a large concentration of dead trees that could fall on them, downed trees and trees killed by bugs, spokeswoman Kristen Bowles said.

Other major fires in Oregon are nearly contained, including a large one in the Hells Canyon Recreation area in the northeastern part of the state.

The Cache Creek Fire has been burning for three weeks in an area now estimated at 115 square miles, or about 74,000 acres.

Fire managers reported Monday that crews have built lines around 90 percent of the fire, but the blaze continues to burn in its interior.

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