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Central Oregon Ranch Owners Blame Forest Service For Fire

 By Ethan Lindsey, Bend, OR  August 20, 2008, OPB News

More than 1000 acres of private ranchland next to the Ochoco National Forest has been scorched as part of the Bridge Creek Fire.

And the private landowners are unhappy about it because they take issue with fire management policies.

The Forest Service was following a new policy that allowed the fire to burn as part of a forest management plan.

But extreme winds, and 100-degree temperatures sent the fire off in an unexpected direction, the Forest Service says.

One of Oregon's wealthiest families even says it may file a claim against the U.S. Forest Service.

The Pape family owns a machinery supplier and business aviation company in Eugene.

Susie Pape says the fire destroyed a beautiful stand of Ponderosa Pine trees on the family's 5500-acre ranch.

Susie Pape: “If I'd burned garbage on our ranch, and it had spread to the forest, I'd be in prison. Now, the fire is still burning, and the fire will continue to burn until the snow snuffs it out completely this winter.”

Pape says the Forest Service on Tuesday apologized to land owners in a meeting.

Currently the fire is burning over 5000 acres, and 400 firefighters have it 35-percent contained.

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