Abandoned campfire sets forest on fire south of Prineville

The fire is burning in dead and downed trees in the Hammer Creek and Florida Creek drainages. Firefights have noticed some isolated torching. (Central Oregon Interagency Fire)

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - Someone abandoned a campfire in the woods south of Prineville - and set the forest on fire.

Firefighters are working the Hammer Fire in the Maury Mountains.

Discovered Wednesday afternoon near the Hammer Creek trailhead south of Post, the fire was estimated at 50 acres Thursday.

"Multiple engines and the Redmond Interagency Hotshot Crew worked into the night to contain the fire during high wind events yesterday evening," fire managers said Thursday. "Several hand crews are arriving at the fire today and crews plan to burn out around the fire tonight or tomorrow to contain and fully suppress it."

The fire is burning in dead and downed trees in the Hammer Creek and Florida Creek drainages. Firefighters have noticed some isolated tree torching.

The cause of the wildfire has been determined to be an abandoned fire, fire managers said.

"Land managers would like to take this opportunity to remind the public that fuels are drying out and fire danger is expected to increase along with warmer weather. There are no public use restrictions in effect at this time on National Forest System lands in Central Oregon, but campfires should always be completely extinguished prior to vacating a campsite," Central Oregon interagency fire staff said in a statement. "A good rule of thumb for extinguishing a campfire is to make sure it is cool to the touch prior to leaving. Simply covering a hot fire with dirt may not fully extinguish it. Campfires can smolder underground for several days and a strong wind event can uncover and rekindle them."

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