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    Randy Panek
    Keymaster

    C. Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center

    About 6,500 gallons of retardant were quickly dropped on the new Rifle Range Fire near Lake Billy Chinook Saturday, allowing ground crews to safely engage

    CULVER, Ore. –

    A human-caused wildfire that broke out Saturday morning near the Three Rivers subdivision south of Lake Billy Chinook is 70 percent contained, officials said Sunday. The fire burned about 20 acres and prompted a quick call-out of crews on the ground and in the air who halted its spread.

    Jefferson County reported the Rifle Range Fire around 8:40 a.m. about a mile south of the lake and four miles east of Perry South Campground, said Jinny Reed, a spokeswoman at the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch Center in Prineville.

    By early afternoon, crews and retardant drops had stopped the forward spread of the blaze, reported to have burned 21 acres of private land and the Crooked River National Grassland.

    Reed said the fire began in scattered brush, grass and juniper close to about 50 homes in the rural Three Rivers subdivision, though no evacuations or road closures were deemed necessary.

    About 25 firefighters were called in to fight the blaze and about 6,500 gallons of retardant dropped on the fire made it safe by early afternoon for crews to engage on the ground. The La Grande Hotshots also arrived to assist.

    Air tankers were released by mid-afternoon as water-dropping helicopters took up the fight, officials said. All aerial resources were released by about 5:30 p.m.

    COIDC officials said fire personnel remained on the fire through the night to continue containment efforts.

    All spread of the fire was stopped and lines held overnight, officials said, adding that crews would work Sunday to finish the line around the blaze.

    The National Weather Service’s red flag (fire weather) warning from 1-9 p.m. Saturday for gusty winds and low humidity across much of Central Oregon tested the lines, Reed said.

    COIDC officials said it was the third human-caused fire in the area of the Sisters Ranger District in the past 24 hours and urged everyone to be careful with any possible ignition sources.

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