Following a long smoky fire season in Central Oregon, incredible success stories of previous areas where the fire fuels (vegetation) have been reduced prior to smoke in the air have been coming forward. One notable story was shared from Eagle Crest who’s residents have been making admirable strides in making their neighborhood more adapted to wildland fire.  They have been recognized as a Firewise Community since 2015 as well as working diligently on Firewise ideals for the better part of a decade. They embarked on an attitude change within the community on how to achieve a true high desert landscape and fire resiliency in the same plan. Residents in Eagle Crest have gone from changing home plans/layouts to save juniper trees from being cut down to planning landscape vegetation management that has improved their fire safety as well as the health of their landscape.

During one of our many lightning storms this summer a strong thunderstorm cell packing heavy rain, wind and lightning passed through Eagle Crest. One of those lightning bolts struck a juniper tree in the Vista Rim Trail Corridor initiating a brush fire that quickly spread uphill toward a Vista Rim home.  A nearby landscape crew was the first responders followed by Redmond Fire and Rescue.  Their Community Service Manager noted that if it wasn’t for the diligent efforts of the Ridge Community Wildfire Protection Committee and the work done by the Heart of Oregon Corps (wildfire protection treatment contractor) to create defensible space in the area, the fire would have been much harder to contain and put out.

The series of photos below to illustrate how the lightning traveled down to the ground to start the brush fire, headed up the hill and even jumped a distance to start another brush fire.  Community members are celebrating this wildfire event is a good demonstration (with a happy ending) of the value of the Ridge Community Wildfire Protection Program and the Community Wildfire Protection Committee members working to create defensible space on resort common areas. The program also supports Ridge Owners to establish defensible space around their homes and lots.  Each year Eagle Crest Resort, owner properties and owners and visitors themselves are safer from the damaging effects of a wildfire event because of this effort.