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Q&A: Two Bulls Fire Update

Firefighters in Central Oregon continue to battle the Two Bulls fire burning west of Bend.

About 10 and a half square miles of forest have burned just a few miles west of Bend in the Two Bulls Fires since Saturday.

Kristian Foden-Vencil has been on the fire line and joins us now over the phone.

Good afternoon Kristian.

KFV: Good afternoon.

BH: So, what’s the latest on the fire?

KFV: About 350 fire fighters.  They’re planning to install hoses along fire lines today.

They say they’re making progress and the fire is now 5 percent contained.

They did have crews working through the night.

More people and equipment arrived today. So far there are 11 helicopters, 46 fire engines, 11  bull dozers and and more than 700 workers in all.

Cost more than $1 million so far.

It’s extremely dry for this time of year. There hasn’t been much rain or snow.

The cause is under investigation.

The concern today is the wind. So far things haven’t picked up, but when I was on the line, there were sudden gusts that picked up. The forecast is for gust from 10-18 mph.

No structures or injuries have been reported to date.

The city also shut off surface water on Saturday and will exclusively use groundwater wells until the fire’s impact on the Bridge Creek watershed can be assessed. Pictures in the Bend Bulletin show a helicopter gathering water from a pretty shallow looking pool.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

BH: What did you see out on the fire line today?

KFV: Hot and dry. Bulldozer pushes a line through, digging up everything in it’s path and leaving bare soil. Then crews of fire fighters go in behind it, mopping up. That’s where say a tree has burned and they’ll douse the flames down and break it up into smaller pieces so it doesn’t smolder for a long period of time.

Today met two fire fighters, both veterans.

Kenn Bolse is 31 and did several tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2005.

Sky Smith is 24. He served in Afghanistan. He says there are similarities between working the fire line and the military.

BH: I understand people are being evacuated from their homes. How many and from where?

KFV: The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office ordered Level III Evacuation Notices to about 50 homes in the Skyliners Road area —  these are just a couple of miles outside of the City of Bend.

Sky Smith works 13-hour-days cutting line at the Two Bulls wildfire outside Bend.

Sky Smith works 13-hour-days cutting line at the Two Bulls wildfire outside Bend.

Kristian Foden-Vencil/OPB

Level III -  means leave immediately and their safety cannot be guaranteed.

Anyone who needs a place to stay or other resources can go to the American Red Cross shelter at High Desert Middle School.

Level II Evacuation Notices for areas south of Shevlin Park and the Saddleback subdivision.

Level II means there is significant danger and residents should voluntarily relocate to a shelter or go stay with family and friends.

People that choose to remain should be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Level I Evacuation Notices have been issued for:  Northwest Crossing

Level I means residents should be aware of the danger and monitor local media.

A livestock shelter has been opened at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds in Redmond.

BH: Anything else people should be aware of ?

KFV: Bend-La Pine Schools has announced there will be no school tomorrow at Miller Elementary, Cascade Middle and Summit High schools. All other schools will be open, but the district may move recess indoors depending on air quality.

Finals will be rescheduled and students should visit their school websites for more information.

A public meeting has been scheduled for 6 o’clock tonight at Bend High School,

BH:  Thank you.  That’s OPB reporter Kristian Foden Vencil, in Bend.

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Firefighters in Central Oregon continue to battle the Two Bulls fire burning west of Bend.