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Three months after it started, Cedar Creek Fire reaches significant turning point

Smoke from the Cedar Creek fire dances across the surface of Waldo Lake.
Willamette National Forest
Smoke from the Cedar Creek fire dances across the surface of Waldo Lake in this photo from early September.

It’s been three months since the Cedar Creek Fire started burning in the Willamette National Forest east of Oakridge. Fire managers now say the blaze is mostly out.

Officially, the lightning-sparked fire is around 70% contained. But public information officer Bud Sexton said for the most part, the recent rainfall and cooler temperatures mean flames are no longer actively burning.

"People might see some occasional smoke here and there," he said. "But that's all part of the natural process of the fire as it continues to receive more rainfall."

The fire burned more than 127,000 acres and caused the evacuation of Oakridge for a few days in September. Though the community was largely spared from any damage, smoke continued to plague the area through much of October.

“We know (Oakridge and Westfir are) greatly appreciative of all the efforts, and they’re ready to get back to that sense of normalcy once again," said Sexton. "It’s great to see some clear air, see all the beautiful countryside and the mountains surrounding this. It’s been a long time coming for the residents and for the individuals that have been working on the fire as well.”

Management of the fire is now being turned over to a locally-based crew, Sexton said that transition "is definitely a good indicator of where this fire is at."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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