Two bowhunters in eastern Oregon have been trapped by a fast-moving wildfire. The Parish Cabin Fire, 15 miles northeast of Seneca, forced the evacuation of about two dozen people from campgrounds and dispersed hunting camps Tuesday night. Glenn Palmer, Grant County Sheriff, said the trapped couple had called relatives in the Portland area on Tuesday evening and said they were hiking back out toward their car, which was parked on the south side of the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness.
“They’re not going to be able to drive out,” Palmer said. “The fire’s cut off their escape route.”
The Oregonian reported that Palmer sent two deputies to the area late Tuesday, but they couldn’t find the couple’s car at the High Lake trailhead. The fire’s burned across area roads, and numerous downed trees in the area have made it inaccessible by ground; the sheriff plans to request a helicopter rescue by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
The fire’s reported at 4,000 acres this morning; roads in the area are closed. Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 (Incident Commander Brian Watts) has been ordered and will transition this evening with the local Type 3 team.
The Blue Mountain Eagle reported that the Forest Service and Grant County Sheriff’s deputies evacuated Lake Creek Youth Camp, Parish Cabin Campground, and many dispersed campsites in the area.
UPDATE 7:12 p.m. PDT: The Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day reports that the Portland couple are unaccounted for. The sheriff’s department has been in contact with the family, including the man’s brother, a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County, California. Messages have been left on the couple’s cellphones.
“They’re skilled hikers, and he has some experience with firefighting,” Sheriff Glenn Palmer said.
He said a note was left on the couple’s vehicle, found parked near the High Lake trailhead on the south side of Strawberry Mountain, asking them to call law enforcement. The fire’s about 2.5 miles from the vehicle.
UPDATE 7:22 p.m. PDT: KEPR-TV reports that the couple has safely got out of the fire area.