'The Rebel Fire is expected to be a long term event': 10 miles of scenic byway closed

The Rebel Fire as seen from the air. (USDA Forest Service photo)

BLUE RIVER, Ore. - A forest fire burning out of control along the South Fork of the McKenzie River will likely burn until enough rain falls to halt the advance of the flames, the Forest Service said Tuesday.

"The Rebel Fire is expected to be a long term event, and will continue to burn until significant moisture eliminates fire growth potential," the agency said in a statement.

The Forest Service has closed the Aufderheide Scenic Byway (Forest Service Road 19) for public safety south of Hard Rock Campground and north of Frissel Crossing.

Both campgrounds remain open to the public.

Red Diamond Campground is closed. Rebel Trailheads #3324/#3323 and the junction with Olallie South Trail #3529 are also closed.

The fire was first detected August 4. The cause is under investigation.

Since then it has burned about 200 acres. The fire is burning north and east into the Three Sisters Wilderness area.

The Rebel is one of two ongoing wildfires on the Willamette National Forest. The Whitewater Fire burning on Mount Jefferson has burned more than 5,000 acres and remains uncontained.

Smoke from the Whitewater Fire reached the southern Willamette Valley last week.

Mixed with smoke from other fires in the Northwest, the air quality reached Unhealthy levels at times in Eugene/Springfield.

The Forest Service said campers and other forest users should be aware of the smoke from both fires.

"Smoke from the fire rises up and away during the daytime, but in the evening smoke can pool back down in canyons, drainages, and basins," the Forest Service said in a statement. "Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and intensify chronic heart and lung problems. Your eyes are your best tools to determine if it’s safe to be outside. If visibility is over 5 miles, the air quality is generally good. If you are having health effects from smoke exposure then take extra care to stay inside or get to an area with better air quality."

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