Red Flag Warnings continue across much of Oregon today, as well as continued extreme heat warnings and air quality alerts. Conditions on the ground remain ideal for new fire starts and extreme fire behavior on existing fires. Today, there is another human-caused wildfire that will significantly increase the risk to an Oregon community, and the many firefighters that are needed to protect the community and suppress the fire. Please do all you can to help prevent human-caused wildfires. Know and follow the fire restrictions and closures for where you are located or will be traveling. To find that information on ODF-protected lands, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx.
Preventing human-caused wildfires, keeping Oregon green, doing our part – share on and help spread the word: https://www.facebook.com/odfprevention/videos/699961523461728/.New wildfires on ODF-protected forestlands
There were no new wildfires 10 acres or larger reported on ODF-protected forestlands over the past 24 hours.
New wildfires on other forestlands
Eagle Creek Fire – Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The Eagle Creek Fire was reported at about 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 2, burning in timber about 2 miles south of Cascade Locks in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The fire is reported as human-caused and under investigation by the Oregon State Police. Today, the fire is about one-half mile south of Cascade Locks, and evacuations are in place for that community and the near-by area. Road, trail, and area closures are also in effect. An interagency incident management team (Type 2) has been ordered to assume command of this fire. As of this morning, no ODF-protected acreage is yet directly involved, however, the fire is threatening ODF protection. ODF is providing mutual aid resources, including aerial resources yesterday (smoke is limiting aerial engagement today), and engines. Structural resources from the surrounding areas are supporting the homes and residences at risk. Hikers in the area sheltered in place last night and are being led out today by local search and rescue crews.
Updates on existing Oregon wildfires
Growth slowed on some large existing fires in Oregon and increased on others. There are now four wildfires or wildfire complexes in the state over 20,000 acres in size. ODF has personnel engaged in or closely monitoring many of those fires on lands not protected by ODF. Their primary mission is to help coordinate and ensure the protection of nearby ODF-protected lands.
For photos and more information on wildfires and wildfire readiness, please go to the department’s wildfire blog at http://wildfireoregondeptofforestry.blogspot.com/.
Chetco Bar Fire – in Curry County
Oregon’s largest wildfire is approximately 142,857 acres, of which at least 18,000 are land protected by ODF through the Coos Forest Protective Association, with containment remaining at 10 percent. There was no infrared flight last night, therefore there is no update to fire acreage for today. There are more than 1,600 personnel assigned to this fire.
There is potential for very active fire behavior again today. With embers carrying up to three tenths of a mile, significant perimeter growth is possible. The Excessive Heat Warning continues through midday Monday. A Red Flag Warning will be in effect tonight through Monday morning for gusty winds, low relative humidity, and high to very high fire danger all of which are likely to contribute to significant spread of new and existing fires.
Smoke dispersion was poor yesterday and smoke settled into Brookings and other low areas. While the smoke moderated fire behavior in some areas, when it cleared, activity picked up and a column of smoke rose to 12,000 feet on the east side of the fire.
West of Cave Junction, crews re-opened and cleared brush from firelines used during the Biscuit Fire. On the north, northwest, and southern perimeter, firefighters continued to connect dozer lines with road systems, establishing direct containment lines. Crews performed structural assessments and pulled burnable material away from structures in the Illinois River Valley and Agness areas. A single helicopter flew yesterday, but air resource use was severely limited by smoke.
Finding and extinguishing hot spots along the containment line on portions of the west and northwest side of the fire is an ongoing effort today. On the eastern flank, firefighters will re-open old dozer lines southwest of Cave Junction and engine crews will prepare structures by pulling back burnable material and installing sprinkler systems. Firefighters are planning to construct contingency fireline to the south into California. Aircraft utilization is expected to be minimal as pilots are hampered by dense smoke and limited visibility. Oregon State Fire Marshal structural task forces are patrolling and assessing structural properties in the level 2 and 3 evacuation areas.
On the southwest flank of the fire, firefighters continue to check (or slow) southerly fire spread into the Emily Creek area. Mop-up is ongoing on the western perimeter while crews continue line construction and potentially some burnout operations to secure Pistol River firelines. Extreme to Hazardous smoke impacts will continue to immerse the communities downwind of the Chetco Bar fire on all sides. Reduced visibility along highways 101, 199, and other local roadways should be expected. Coastal areas such as Gold Beach and Brookings, and possibly Agness, are expected to see some improvement in smoke conditions late in the day as West to Northwest winds begin to drift smoke Southeasterly. Inland communities such as Cave Junction and Grants Pass that sit down valley are expected to remain in heavy smoke through tomorrow.
The level 3 evacuation was decreased to a level 2 for the Mountain Drive area off the north bank of the Chetco. A level 1 “be prepared” evacuation was put in place for the Oak Flats area in Josephine County.
There will be a Community Fire Briefing on Sunday, September 3, at 7 p.m. in Cave Junction at the Illinois Valley High School.
There are no closures on Highway 101, and local businesses, restaurants, and lodging establishments in Brookings and Harbor remain open for business. Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place: http://bit.ly/2erUN5B.
Horse Prairie Fire – Douglas Forest Protective Association
The Horse Prairie Fire is now estimated at 11,925 acres and 20 percent contained. Approximately 1,000 personnel are engaged on the fire which is located about 12 miles west of Riddle. There are Level 3 evacuations in effect for residences on portions of Lower Cow Creek and Doe roads, with local fire departments’ engines posted at all nine affected homes. Road and area closures also remain in effect.
Jade Creek Fire – Klamath-Lake District / Fremont-Winema National Forest
This lightning-caused fire is reported today at 1,200 acres with no containment yet. It is burning about 16 miles east of Bly on private land and land managed by the U.S. Forest Service in an area of sagebrush, grass, juniper, timber and logging slash. Due to the complexity of this wind-driven fire, an Interagency (Type 2) Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire this morning and approximately 200 personnel are now engaged on this fire. Campgrounds and hikers in the fire’s area have been evacuated and others are on alert in case subsequent evacuations are needed. Road, trail, and area closures are in effect. Travelers on Highway 140 between Bly and Lakeview should be aware of decreased visibility due to smoke, intermittent road closures, and emergency response vehicles in the area.
Potato Hill Fire – Willamette National Forest
The Potato Hill Fire is burning about 20 miles northwest of Sisters, (near Highway 20/Lost Lake). The fire grew by about 39 acres to 199 acres today and is 35 percent contained, Crews have completed line around the fire and will continue to monitor it as it smolders in heavy fuels. Smoke from this fire could impact Highway 20 visibility so the public is asked to travel slowly through the area, and watch out for firefighters working in the area. Call 511 or visit www.tripcheck.com for current road conditions.
Milli Fire – Deschutes National Forest
This lightning-caused fire is reported today at 22,527 acres (a reduction of 191 acres since yesterday’s report), and containment rose to 50 percent. As of today, approximately 1,334 acres of ODF-protected lands have burned within this fire’s perimeter. Firefighters had worked hard over the past several days to keep the fire intensity low as the fire burned on to those private lands so as to minimize as much damage to those resources as possible. All fire movement was interior and stayed within the confines of the established perimeters. This afternoon, the Deschutes County Sheriff has lowered the Level 2 evacuation notices that were in place for this fire; all Milli Fire-related evacuations are now at a Level 1 – Be Ready.
Nash Fire – Deschutes and Willamette National Forests
The incident management team on the Milli Fire is now also managing this fire (which had previously been included in the Horse Creek Complex). The fire is burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness Area along the crest of the Cascades. The fire is reported this morning at.3,132 acres and 0 percent contained. Evacuations, and area, road, and trail closures are in place.
Falcon Complex – Umpqua National Forest
There was no new growth reported on this fire, which remains at 2,935 acres size and containment at 55 percent. The fires are burning in timber roughly 17 miles north of Prospect in southern Oregon. The incident management team has successfully kept these lightning-caused fires from spreading to ODF-protected lands.
High Cascades Complex – in and around Crater Lake National Park
This large wildfire complex grew by 1,005 acres yesterday, and is currently 28,326 acres and 33 percent contained. Road, trail and area closures remain in effect.
Jones Fire – Willamette National Forest
This fire grew by 244 acres yesterday, and is now reported at 8,184 acres and remains 51 percent contained. An ODF branch is integrated with the interagency incident management team on this fire to protect private lands. More than 600 personnel are engaged on this fire which is located east of Springfield and about 10 miles northeast of the town of Lowell.
Miller Complex – Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Growth on this group of fires yesterday was 1,954 acres and the complex is now 17,965 acres, with containment remaining at 40 percent. Evacuations and area, road, and trail closures are in place. The Complex is burning in southwest Jackson County in difficult, timbered terrain about 17 miles east of Cave Junction. ODF continues to actively engage here to keep these fires from spreading to lands protected by ODF.
North Pelican Fire – Fremont-Winema National Forest
This lightning-caused fire remains today at 1,900 acres (no reported growth) and 18 percent contained. The fire is burning about 25 miles north of Klamath Falls.
Rebel Fire – Willamette National Forest
These three fires (Rebel, Pete, and Box Canyon fires) grew by a total of approximately 385 acres yesterday, and are now at 6,632 acres and remain 19 percent contained. These fires are burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness 13 miles south of McKenzie Bridge. Road; trail, and area closures, and evacuations are in effect. A community meeting related to this fire and the Horse Creek Complex will be held Sunday, September 3, at the Upper McKenzie Community Center in Blue River.
Staley Fire – Willamette National Forest
This fire increased by about 43 acres to a total of 2,234 acres, and is now 76 percent contained. A forest closure for the fire area, including roads and trails, remain in effect on this lightning-caused fire, which is 23 miles south of Oakridge. More resources will be released from this fire today to go on to other fire assignments, and it will be turned over to the IMT that is currently managing the Jones Fire.
Umpqua North Complex – Umpqua National Forest
This large wildfire complex remains at 27,344 acres (no new growth reported), with containment remaining at 20 percent. More than a thousand firefighters are engaged on this complex of 15 lightning-caused fires that are located about 50 miles east of Roseburg along Highway 138.
Whitewater Fire – Willamette National Forest
These lightning-caused fires are burning in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area about 15 miles east of Detroit. Four fires included with this report: the Whitewater, Little Devil, Scorpion, and French fires. These fires grew yesterday by 205 acres, bringing the total acres burned to 11,434, and they remain 33 percent contained.