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The Black Crater Fire Is Getting Worse (Updated 7/31)

First off, yes, I'm fine, now let's move on (I'll get to my 1600 or so emails from the last three days later).

Anyway, if case you haven't heard, a good chunk of Central Oregon is on fire, with the Black Crater fire up northwest of here causing new evacuations (Tollgate's getting evacuated). The air is really smoky, and I'm about 30 miles from the fire here. My wife's grandmother lives in Sisters (which the fire is getting closer and closer to every minute), and we're working on getting her out of there right now as the smoke is so thick in the area she's having a hard time breathing (she's in her mid-80s and has lived in Sisters her entire life). We're also working on getting some other family members out of the area, as well.

I'm really hoping they get this thing under control as it's getting dangerously close to Sisters and evacuating that down with it's already poor traffic flow is going to be a nightmare. If I lived there, I would've gotten out already, and if you live there, I would to, as it's going to be utter chaos if they pull the trigger on evacuating that town.

Update: Just catching up here, but vorpal has some good pictures of the fire. Worth checking out since all the local media outlets put itty-bitty pictures on their Web sites.

Update again before I go to bed: Yes, I did live here during the Awbrey Hall fire in 1990. And while I have a bunch of stories surrounding that fire (and other area fires like the Horse Butte fire in 1996) that I won't go into here (it's nearly midnight). But I do have one to share. What people forget was the other fires in the area that were going on at the same time as Awbrey Hall. At the time, we lived just south of Sunriver, and had just sold our house out there and made a bid on a house in Bend. Then Awbrey Hall hit, as did a Sunriver-area fire, and the neighborhood which we were moving to was evacuated, and the neighborhood we were moving from was getting close to burning down, too. I was about 12 years old at the time, and scared that we'd have no place to live -- losing the house I grew up in as well as the house we were moving to. It was a scary time. My mom was working in the Emergency Department at St. Charles at the time, and they had closed of Hwy. 97 getting into Bend -- she managed to talk her way in as she was on call, but other ER doctors and nurses had to jump through hoops to get cleared to travel the highway. It was frightening traveling down the highway near Lava Butte and just seeing a huge orange glow as you drove into Bend.

We'll just save the stories about the future father-in-law saving homes on the Westside during that fire (he was just a landscaper), or watching my coach's house burn to the ground on national news with I was 1000 miles away during the Horse Butte fire -- and I actually knew it happened before he did -- for some other time.

Update on 7/30 at 9:30 AM: Apparently the intentional burnout they did last night helped quite a bit. While the fire is still growing, official word at 8,500 acres, officials say they've turned a corner on the fire.

I just hope the winds don't keep this thing going towards Sisters as if you've ever tried to make it through that town during the quilt show or the Rodeo, imagine what it'd be like during a forced evacuation. Like I've said before, if I lived in Sisters, I'd be getting out of there right now ahead of the foreseeable mess (we've gotten our family out). Especially considering that there's a chance for 35 MPH wind gusts this afternoon.

Update at 4:24: No new news as of yet on new evacuations or what not (if anybody hears anything, feel free to use the contact form on this page to the right -- I will not release names nor will I post about pending actions as I don't want to cause panics). One thing I did forget to link to is the Sisters Nugget's coverage of the fires. As of right now, KTVZ and the Nugget are probably doing the best job with online information for this mess, and I applaud them both.

And when I finally finish playing catch up here at the office, I'll get around to all the great links I have to share.

Updated on 7/31 at 5:30: It looks like they're starting to let some evacuated people back in. Weather is cooperating and the fire is starting to get under control. Thank goodness.

Posted by Jake on 07/29/06 @ 06:16 PM
Posted in Local, Scary | Permalink

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