Local residents got a different kind of fireworks show this Fourth of July, when a controlled burn on private land in the Lone Rock area got out of control and burned from 150 to 160 acres. Firefighters battled the blaze on the north side of Reed Butte into the night and beat down a resurgent blaze the next day. They were able to save five homes that were close to being destroyed. Otherwise no one was hurt and only one other unoccupied structure was burned, according to Three Mile Assistant Fire Chief John Schmiedeke. Burning in sagebrush-covered ground the fire has been resilient. The fire gets into the roots of the sagebrush and pops up again. It’s four days later and they are still patrolling it, he said.
Schmiedeke said that with open burning still in effect, a landowner called in a planned burn on the Fourth of July to the Sheriff’s Office as required and laid out a garden hose for fire control.
“When it took off, though, he didn’t have enough water pressure,” he said.
Schmiedeke said that he was really grateful for the response from the other fire departments. He said firefighters responded from Stevensville, Florence, Hamilton, Corvallis, and Pinesdale. DNRC sent fire trucks and a helicopter with a water bucket.
“There is no way we could have handled this ourselves,” he said. “It was an extremely hot and fast moving fire. It tested all the fire departments in the area.