For the first time in weeks, folks in Sisters can clearly see the mountain skyline as smoke from Oregon’s multitude of fires — including the 24,079-acre Milli Fire — abates. photo by Jim Cornelius
For the first time in weeks, folks in Sisters can clearly see the mountain skyline as smoke from Oregon’s multitude of fires — including the 24,079-acre Milli Fire — abates. photo by Jim Cornelius

The crisis that began in Sisters on August 12 when the Milli Fire began has abated. Evacuation orders have been lifted, smoke is clearing and some areas of the forest closed due to the fire are again accessible.

But the fire has left its mark. At 24,025 acres with 60 percent containment, the fire continues to burn on the southwestern edge of the fire perimeter as it moves slowly south in the Pole Creek burn and west into rock. The fire intermittently puts up columns of smoke as it moves into interior pockets of unburned fuel.

It has cost $15 million to suppress so far, and the economic costs due to loss of business and event cancellations is still being calculated.

Resources on scene include 59 personnel from the Forest Service, the BLM, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Firefighters have been patrolling, mopping up and repairing containment lines. Crews also continue monitoring the perimeter as it pushes into the lava flows along Highway 242, ensuring that all hot spots are monitored until cold.

The area closure in place for the Milli Fire has been reduced. While the western, southern and eastern boundaries of the closure remain the same, the northern border has decreased to open access around Black Butte Ranch and Cold Springs Campground.

Acreage on this fire will likely grow moderately this week, fire officials report. The west side of the fire continues to burn down-slope with occasional torching in pockets of timber in the Three Sisters Wilderness and will continue to extinguish naturally when it runs out of fuel in the lava fields. Fire will also continue a slow move to the southwest in the Pole Creek burn area where overhead hazards remain a concern for firefighter safety. When necessary, firefighters will utilize indirect firefighting tactics like helicopter bucket drops to cool hot spots.