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'Steep and dangerous terrain': New wildfire burning east of Oakridge

USDA Forest Service photo

EUGENE, Ore. - Lightning sparked 20 new fires on the Willamette National Forest last week.

"Firefighters have quickly responded to all of them and the majority of the fires have been kept to an acre or less," the USDA Forest Service said in a statement Monday.

The Kelsey Fire outside Oakridge is the exception.

Burning about 9 miles east of town, the fire had already scorched 10 acres when first discovered.

It has since burned 30 acres - and continues to grow, burning in an old fire scar littered with dead trees.

"Due to the hazards posed by steep terrain and levels of snags, firefighters are primarily using aerial resources to fight the fire," according to the Forest Service. "To date, two scoopers and three helicopters have worked to dampen the blaze. Other resources are also assisting where possible."

The lay of the land makes the fire difficult to fight.

“It’s located in very steep and dangerous terrain, so we are currently evaluating the best way to manage this fire that reduces exposure to firefighters," said Gabe Dumm, Deputy District Ranger for the Middle Fork Ranger District. "Fortunately, it is far from private lands, recreational sites and it is relatively late in the season.”

But recent cooler, moister weather hasn't changed the extremely dry conditions on the Willamette National Forest. A ban on all campfires remains in place.

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