Lionshead Fire Closes PCT, Mount Jefferson Wilderness

The Lionshead Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation has grown to more than 18,600 acres, and has spread into the Deschutes National Forest. With high temps and heavy winds in the forecast, fire managers are concerned that it will spread even farther westward into the Willamette National Forest. As a safety precaution, a closure order has been issued for the the entire Mount Jefferson Wilderness, including the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), from Santiam Pass (Hwy 20) to Olallie Lake. Hikers in the area are advised to evacuate the area immediately, and outdoor recreationists should steer clear of this area.  

Heat and Wind Fuel Lionshead Wildfire

Sparked by lightning on August 16, and only 31% contained, the Lionshead Fire has continued its westward expansion. With Oregon facing a red flag weather warning this week, with forecasts of near-triple-digit temperatures, low humidity, and high winds—a combination akin to pouring gasoline on the wildfire—the Forest Service is taking extra precautions to warn the public.

“We are ramping up our closure to ensure folks stay clear of the area during the next 72-hours,” said Willamette Forest Supervisor David Warnack. “We plan to shrink the closure as appropriate once we see how the fire behaves with anticipated high wind gusts during these next few days.” Detroit Wilderness Rangers, along with Linn and Marion Sheriff Officers, are working together the public in the closure order area.

The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) has issued its own closure alert, and has posted detour directions for any thru-hikers approaching the closure area. This information could change quickly however. Rachel Pawlitz, Interagency Communications Specialist, Fire, Fuels and Aviation Mgmt, has indicated that depending on the fire’s behavior the closure area could be expanded suddenly. She is advising that hikers stay well clear of the closure area.

This information is current as of Sep. 7, 2020, 2pm. For the latest info and closure orders, visit Inciweb’s Lionshead Fire page.

Lionshead Fire location, in proximity to Mount Jefferson, as of Sep. 06. This map does not indicate the current closure area.
PHOTO: A fire helicopter drops a load of retardant on the Lionshead Fire. Photo courtesy of Inciweb.

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