A blaze dubbed the Sterling Ditch fire chewed through 6 acres of brush and trees high above Jacksonville before it was brought under control Wednesday afternoon.
Oregon Department of Forestry fire investigators believe the blaze was sparked by the carelessness of an all-terrain vehicle rider or someone shooting a gun at the well-traveled spot on Anderson Butte.
Smoke appeared above the butte just before 3 p.m. and prompted a large firefighter callout, ODF spokesman Brian Ballou said.
"We want to get on these fires in the higher elevations," Ballou said. "These high elevations are drying out as the summer continues."
The flames climbed to the top of the ridge as fire crews hit it with water hoses and air drops from a bomber plane and a helicopter.
"It was never really that aggressive of a fire, but it did make it to the top of the ridge," Ballou said.
As the air support bombarded the flames, ground crews dug lines and a bulldozer attempted to place a barrier around the fire before it crested the ridge.
In all, 6 acres burned in thinned-out brush and forest, Ballou said.
The site was chosen for forest fire prevention thinning by the U.S. Forest Service a few years ago, Ballou said.
"That really helped the fire from becoming too aggressive," he said.
By 6 p.m. the fire was reduced to a few burning stumps and a large patch of smoking dirt.
Investigators combed the roadside leading to the fire, looking for clues that could determine a cause.
The investigators picked up bullet casings along the road and placed them in evidence.
Ballou said the lack of wind probably kept the fire from spreading beyond the fire crews' grasp early in the afternoon.
"If it had been windy, this would have had a different outcome," Ballou said.
ODF was assisted at the scene by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Jackson County Fire Districts 5 and 9.
No homes were threatened by the fire, Ballou said.
"We're thinking we are going to start getting called out to more fires in the coming weeks," Ballou said. "It's that time of year."
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.