SISTERS, Ore. - Smoke and air quality are major concerns as crews battle the Pole Creek fire near Sisters.
A county health advisory remains in place and health officials are warning people in the area to stay inside as much as possible.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality rated the air quality in Sisters as "hazardous" on Wednesday.
The fire has grown to 17,500 acres and is about 20 percent contained at this point. Crews worked through the night Tuesday in smoke to further contain the blaze, firefighters said.
There are pre-evacuation orders in place, which means those near the Three Sisters Wilderness Area could be forced to leave at a moment's notice.
Here's the latest update from fire officials (as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18):
A slow moving thermal trough began movement over the fire area today generating active fire behavior within the main body of the fire. Crews completed burnout operations along Road 16 on the SE end, providing a containment line from Tam McArthur rim east to Road 16. Burnouts were also initiated on the NW corner. Additional secondary lines are also being put in place on the E and N perimeters of the fire. Several spot fires were discovered near Park Meadow along Road 16, putting up smoke and moving north and west upslope towards the main body of the fire. Spots were quickly corralled by firefighters using a combination of air tankers, helicopters, engines and crews.
Crews will continue overnight to complete burnouts and to mopup and patrol on the S, E and N perimeters.
The high pressure is expected to settle on the east side of the Cascade crest increasing daytime temperatures, lowering humidity and re-establishing a westerly flow of wind. Fire officials are expecting the changing weather to again test containment lines.
Area residents can again expect an air inversion overnight creating smoky conditions early tomorrow. Despite smoke filled skies, all major routes remain open to tourist destinations like Sisters and other central Oregon communities.
- For information on smoke tips or call (503) 229-6397
Full suppression objectives remain in place for the Pole Creek Fire as directed to the Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 by the host agency, Deschutes National Forest. The Deschutes' has provided firefighters a broad suite of tools by authorizing the use of mechanized and motorized equipment, like chain saws and water pumps and air support in both wilderness and non-wilderness lands.
Residents in the Crossroads and Edgington/Remuda areas remain under a Level 2, pre-evacuation alert (west of the 16 Road and South of Highway 20 in the vicinity of Sisters. Public safety agencies will keep the public updated about when to leave and which routes to take. In addition, agencies will notify residents when the alert is lifted.
In the event that there is a need for evacuation, citizens in affected areas will receive a call from 911 Dispatch with a recorded message with specific evacuation information. To receive these messages on cell phones, citizens are encouraged to visit http://www.deschutes.org/citizensalerts and register their numbers with the Citizen Alert program. At this time, there are no towns, subdivisions or structures under evacuation.
For firefighter and public safety, the current closure area includes the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) between Trail #3531and the PCT Trailhead on Highway 242. PCT hikers have a reroute option using the Scott Trail traveling west to Highway 242. The closure still includes Forest Roads 15 (Pole Ck RD) & 16 (Three Creeks Rd) south to FS 4601 Road.
Maps and descriptions are available at Forest Service offices and at http://inciweb.org/incident/3244/.