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Terwilliger Fire east of Springfield burning more than 1,200 acres

The fire is just 1 percent contained, as of Wednesday.

Posted: Aug 21, 2018 6:48 PM
Updated: Aug 22, 2018 1:49 PM

RAINBOW, Ore. -- The Terwilliger Fire burning near the Cougar Reservoir continues to grow as more firefighters work to contain the blaze and tourists feel the heat.

As of Wednesday morning, the fire has burned 1,248 acres and is at 1 percent containment, and 195 personnel are fighting the fire.

Due to the growing wildfire, the following closures are in place:

Closed campgrounds:

  • Hard Rock Campground
  • French Pete Campground
  • Cougar Crossing Campground
  • Sunnyside Campground
  • Slide Creek Campground

Closed recreation sites:

  • Indian Ridge Lookout
  • Terwilliger Hot Springs
  • Echo Day Use and Boat Launch

Closed trails:

  • French Pete Trail #3311
  • Bear Flat Trail #3301
  • Quaking Aspen Trail #3332
  • Lowder Mountain Trail #3329
  • Olallie Mountain Trail #4100
  • Walker Creek Trail #3330
  • East Fork Trail #3308
  • Indian Ridge Trail #3315
  • Rider Creek Trail #3319
  • French Pete Trailhead
  • Upper Lowder Mountain Trailhead
  • Upper East Fork Trailhead
  • Lower East Fork/Lower Echo Trailhead
  • Echo Trailhead
  • O'Leary / Castle Rock Trailhead
  • Lowder Mountain Trailhead
  • Indian Ridge North (Upper) Trailhead
  • Indian Ridge South (Lower) Trailhead

Closed Forest Service Roads (FSR):

  • Sections of FSR 1900
  • Sections of FSR 2618
  • Sections of FSR 1927
  • FSR 1900-408
  • FSR 1900-410
  • FSR 1980
  • FSR 1985
  • FSR 1986
  • Sections of FSR 1993
  • FSR 1994

Tuesday Shawn Badwin, a spokesperson for the Gila las Cuces Type III Incident Management Team, said 87 firefighters, along with two helicopters, were fighting the fire on the ground and in the air. He said a type II team with more resources was scheduled to take control late Tuesday, and it’s common for crews from outside the state to take the lead on fighting wildfires.

“Firefighters across the country are coming here because they were available,” Badwin said. “Local firefighters are always first on scene. They're doing the initial attack, and then follow-up forces arrive to supplement them and then release them so they can respond to any new fires that may start.”

The fire is believed to have started near the trail to Terwilliger Hot Springs Sunday afternoon and has closed access to the popular tourist attraction as well as campgrounds and the Aufderheide Scenic Highway.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and as of Tuesday, no structures are being threatened and no one has been hurt.

Tourists Jorge Hoffman and his girlfriend Bianca Villarreal, both from California, said they have been trying to visit Terwilliger Hot Springs for two years now but have been pushed back by wildfires both times. Villarreal hopes to try again next year.

“Hopefully by the time we get to see it, it's still the same condition or close to it,” Villarreal said.

Kent Roberts, the manager at Harbick's Country Inn in Rainbow, said even with the fire, all his rooms are booked. While half of his guests are firefighters, Roberts said not a single tourist has canceled their reservation as of Tuesday afternoon.

“I'm spending all morning calling every single one of them saying, 'Are you still coming?' and trying to walk that fine line between telling them to come up or don't and being as factual as I can,” Roberts said.

While Terwilliger Hot Springs is closed, Roberts said there is plenty to do in the area including whitewater rafting and mountain biking.

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