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West side fires stay in check.

Byline: Register-Guard and news service reports

Central and Eastern Oregon continued to be the focus of wildland fire activity Saturday, and the situation remained stable in Western Oregon in the wake of last week's lightning storms that sparked hundreds of fires around the state.

Most of the lightning fires in the Umpqua National Forest remain small, according to spokeswoman Susan Johnson, adding that firefighters have "a good handle" on them. Crews are fighting two blazes on the North Umpqua Ranger District that are between 3 and 5 acres each, she said.

The Willamette National Forest, where about 15 small fires had been smoldering in the southern end, did not report any changes on Saturday.

The state Department of Forestry reported that lightning continued to strike some areas Friday into Saturday, although strikes were not as widespread as the previous two days. More lightning and thunderstorms are forecast for parts of Oregon through today.

Wildfires continued to threaten structures near the Warm Springs Reservation on Saturday while state and local agencies fought a series of smaller fires in Eastern Oregon.

Fires near the reservation broke out among an area thick with Douglas firs and mixed conifers, fuel ing the fire to 1,800 acres and threatening people in the reservation's Sidwalter Area, where residents were put on an evacuation alert.

Closer to the town of Warm Springs, the Shitike fire burned on 1,500 acres, and homes along one of the town's roads were evacuated to provide less congestion during burnout operations.

A third fire jumped the Deschutes River and began to burn U.S. Bureau of Land Management land.

Smaller fires in Eastern Oregon continued to burn after a series of lightning strikes on Wednesday and Thursday.

In the Central Oregon town of Clarno, about 60 miles southeast of The Dalles, lighting caused a series of fires on 18,000 acres that was not contained on Saturday and still threatened about 15 homes and 50 outbuildings.

The fires burned on either side of Oregon Route 218 and on both sides of the John Day River. The eastern-most fire forced 55 youth campers to evacuate a 10-acre science camp operated by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The fire near Clarno was expected to die down overnight, giving responders a chance to work on containment lines in the evening and early morning.

The Desert Meadows fire, also caused by lightning, began near Frenchglen, about 55 miles south of Burns. It was burning on about 1,500 acres but could reach the Little Blitzen Gorge soon, where it will find heavy fuel of juniper, sagebrush and meadow grasses.

Campgrounds in the area could be affected, and the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center reports that there could be campers in the wilderness near where the fire is burning.

Team editor Mark Johnson contributed to this report.
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Title Annotation:Local News; Crews work remaining blazes as lightning strikes ease up
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 28, 2011
Words:473
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