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Thursday, September 21, 2017

9/21/2017 Wildland Fire Minute

This week has seen a significant change in the dominant weather pattern. The majority of area fires have seen a significant amount of rain and snow over the past two days. Locations such as Eagle Creek Fire has seen in excess of 6” of precipitation, while fires such the Whitewater complex have received several inches of accumulating snow fall. Beginning this weekend, a warm and drying trend typical of local autumn conditions is forecast to impact the region through next week. With this weather change, the Pacific Northwest has decreased from Preparedness Level 5 – the highest -- to Preparedness Level 4. The ten day forecast will continue to decrease to level 3. Fires across the region are seeing a reduction in fire fighter numbers, and operations are switching from suppression to repair. On a number of fires, such as Eagle Creek, in Oregon, Burned Area Response Teams are mobilizing to stabilize watersheds, erosion prone areas, and other critical resources damaged by the fires. Many evacuation and closure orders and being rescinded. In order for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time, it’s important to “Know Before You Go” – know what closures are in place, and what fires are burning in the area you want to visit. Some of your favorite hiking spots may not be available for some time. To learn more about the latest wildland fire conditions in the Pacific Northwest head on over to: http://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/ Video by Michael Campbell, BLM -- Graphics by Matt Christenson, BLM – Featuring Chris Ziegler, National Park Service. Additional video provided by Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

9/21/2017 Whitewater Fire UPdate

Whitewater Fires - including Little Devil, Scorpion, Claggett Lake, Slideout, French, Section Line Fire, and Potato Hill Fires
September 21, 2017
Fire Information: 541-719-8371 or WillametteWildfires2017@gmail.com

Yesterday, both the French Fire and the Potato Hill Fire were turned back over to their forest districts. The evacuation levels for Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes remains at a Level 1 and Forest Service Road 46 was reopened for all through traffic. As the weather begins to improve, the public may see smoke coming from the fire areas. Crews expect to see smoke to be visible at least into the month of October.

As the rains continue throughout the day, crews will work on suppression repair as long as it is safe to do so. Suppression repair work includes removing large amounts of timber slash from the area, chipping branches, adding water bars into roadways and hillsides to help redirect water flow to protect hillsides from erosion and placing logs and other debris strategically to slow runoff water. Crews will also continue to collect equipment and hose form the fire line as long as it is safe to do so.

Safety is the top priority for firefighters and the public. While inclement weather continues, driving hazards still exist for the public and firefighters. Please drive cautiously and watch out for debris on the roadways. Even though we have received a significant amount of rain, the ground is not absorbing moisture very well and less than a half inch down the dirt is bone dry. We also asked that hunters be extra cautious of crews working in the area. During rainy conditions, firefighters may not be easily seen by hunters.

Detroit Ranger District  visit Whitewater Fire on Inciweb for updates on the following fires.
The strategy for managing this fire is focused on protecting the communities of Breitenbush and/ Devil Creek, the high voltage power lines critical to the northwest power grid, private timberlands to the west, with the highest priority being firefighter and public safety.

Whitewater Fire: 11,493 acres, 64% contained. Crews were able to safely work on the perimeter of the Whitewater Fire. Firefighters worked on suppression repair by clearing the roadways and ditches with debris. Chipping continues as part of the repair process. All equipment from the Cheat Creek drainage will be removed.

Little Devil Fire: 2,125 acres, 17% contained. Although Breitenbush Hot Springs and communities of Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes remain at a Level 1 evacuation, owners have begun returning to their properties. Crews will continue repair work on turnouts and improvements essential for repair of the primary lines.

Scorpion Fire: 695 acres, 16% contained. The Scorpion Fire continues to hold between the east and west flanks, above Highway 46 and away from the power lines. As the weather improves, fire crews will complete repair work on all non-primary containment lines and on portions of the fire that are secure.

French Fire: 2 acres, 95% contained. The French Fire was turned back over to the forest district, effective yesterday at noon.

The Wilderness Fires including Claggett Lake, Slideout and Section Line Fires. The Wilderness Fires, located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area, have stayed in check due to wet weather conditions. However, due to the weather, air operations has been unable to fly over the fire to check recent conditions. Claggett Lake Fire: 100 acres, 0% contained. Slideout Fire: ½ acres, 0% contained. Section Line Fire: .1 acres, 0% contained.

McKenzie River Ranger District visit Potato Hill on Inciweb for updates.
Potato Hill: 199 acres, 100% contained. The Potato Hill Fire was turned back over to the forest district, effective yesterday at noon.

Air Quality: Air quality reported from Air Now http://www.airnow.gov/ .

Weather: Rains are expected to continue today and start to decrease as the day progresses. Temperatures are expected to increase and relative humidity will likely decrease. With the increased temperatures, accumulated snow will likely melt off.

Fire Behavior: Minimal fire spread is expected due to the heavy rain and snow. Fire activity will be limited to smoldering in the needle litter and duff.

Air Operations: The low cloud ceiling and breezy conditions have impacted air operations temporarily suspending their abilities to fly. When the weather starts to clear up and it is safe for crews to fly, the majority of air operations will likely focus on equipment retrieval.

A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in place over the fire area restricting aerial public access. Please check the NOTAMs prior to flying. The public is reminded that all air operations are grounded any time a drone is sighted within the TFR, which inhibits their ability to do critical fire suppression efforts. Flying within the TFR is prohibited and against the law.

Evacuation Levels: Forest Service Road 46 is now open to all through traffic. Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes remain at a Level 1 evacuation level. For additional information, contact the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, (503) 588-5108, or visit the ‘Alerts and Emergency’ tab on http://www.co.marion.or.us/alerts.

Highway Closures: No road closures reported. Highway 46 was reopened yesterday.

Forest Closures: For further information, visit:  https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices.

9/21/2017 Miller Complex Update



Miller Complex Fire Update
Sept. 21, 2017
Northwest Incident Management Team 9 (NW9), Brian Goff, Incident Commander
Information Phone: 541-899-5302 Email: MillerComplex2017@gmail.com
Complex Size: 36,302 acres      Containment: 65%     Personnel: 225

Tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 22), Northwest Incident Management Team 9 (NW9) turns over management of the Miller Complex fires to a Type 3 command structure, signaling a reduction in the incident’s complexity.  Today, the Type 3 team will work with NW 9.  The Type 3 team will continue operations at the current incident command post location.  Some of the management and support staff from NW9 will continue with the Type 3 team, along with approximately 200 firefighters.  Personnel are expected to remain on the complex until a season-ending event, such as sufficient rain/snow, arrives to stop fire activity.

Current Situation:  Firefighter and public safety are the top priority.
The Miller Complex remains at 65% completed overall. The complex includes the portion of the Abney Fire that is north of the Pacific Crest Trail.  The east and west flanks of the Abney Fire make up about 35% of the complex perimeter.  Those east and west flanks are not contained today, but they pose little threat to high values such as infrastructure and private lands.
On the west flank, fire movement is restricted to the Red Buttes Wilderness.  Fire is compatible with wilderness management, and numerous natural barriers exist within the wilderness to limit fire spread.

On the east flank of Abney, firefighters have constructed fireline to the north and east of the open fire perimeter.  The ridge that includes the Pacific Crest Trail will be the containment feature to the south.  Those lines will contain the fire and prevent it from entering private lands.
Probabilities are high that season-ending rain/snow will occur before the fire reaches the containment boundary.  However, if future weather conditions allow the fire to spread toward those boundaries, a team will be in place to implement timely suppression actions and hold the fire within the identified containment area.

Today’s weather/fire behavior:  Cloudy, cool, damp weather prevailed over the incident yesterday.  Measurable rainfall varied widely from wet to dry, west to east, with 1.53 inches of rain northwest of the Creedence Fire, 0.36 inches at Carberry, and 0.2 inches at Squaw Peak to the east.  
Today will be cool, yet warmer than yesterday, damp and showery.  With the wet, cool and windy conditions, firefighters will adjust to changing weather conditions by watching for snags, burnt debris, washouts and slippery surfaces.  Little fire activity is anticipated due to the wetting rain.  Fire behavior is anticipated to be low. Drier and warmer weather starts Friday and will continue into next week.
Miller Complex Abney Fire, south of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5511/.

Closures: The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest closed areas  https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/rogue-siskiyou/alerts-notices.  The Bureau of Land Management has closed the Grayback Mountain Trailhead.   Klamath National Forest closures see https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/klamath/alerts-notices.

Website: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5514/#   Joint Information Center Blog: http://swojic.blogspot.com/  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MillerComplexFires/ or https://facebook/R6RRSNF

9/21/2017 Umpqua North Complex Update

Umpqua North Complex Update

September 21, 2017 – 9:00 a.m.

                                                                       
Fire Information: 541-378-6944 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm
Start Date: August 11, 2017  
Cause: Lightning              
Fuels: Timber, forest litter, grass & shrubs
Acres:  43,139 (+364)             
Percent Contained: 50%   

Current Situation:
Due to the recent storm that entered the region Tuesday afternoon, fire suppression efforts on the Umpqua North Fire Complex has now shifted to suppression repair, backhauling equipment and hoses from the fire line. The Umpqua North Fire Complex involves six separate wildfires located along 35 miles of the Highway 138 corridor and spread across 179,279 acres of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. Fire acreage over the last few days has not changed from Monday’s 43,139 acres, since infrared over-flights have not been possible because of the passing storm.

Transmission lines are being restored by Pacific Power, with one line still out of operation due to damage by the fire.  Cultural and natural resources at this time are not at risk from fire, but are still concern to managers due to storm impacts following this significant fire event. USFS timber sales and private commercial timber values were impacted during the fire activity and now suppression repair is underway so normal operations can soon resume on the forest.

A cold front passed over the Umpqua Forest on Tuesday, bringing significant rain and snow precipitation through Thursday morning.  Portions of the fire received over 3 inches of rain.  Temperatures are cold, dropping as low as 32 F Thursday morning.  Today’s forecast is for periodic snow flurries, later turning to bands of showers late Thursday afternoon.  Weather is expected to warm on Friday with partly cloudy skies and sunshine at times. Temperatures will rise into the mid-60s F, followed by a warming trend next week.  Heavy fuels in the 1000 hour indices will continue to burn in the understory; however, the fire is expected to remain confined within its current perimeter. The energy release component (ERC) which helps determine the potential of fire spread has hit zero due to the arrival of this recent storm system.  

Crews are continuing to monitor existing fire activity, but are primarily now focused on planning suppression repair work on the fire’s hand and dozer lines.  Fire managers and Forest resource advisors have implemented suppression repair measures to address the impact of fire suppression work. These measures include: building water bars to limit erosion, covering lines built by crews and dozers if needed, knocking down berms and removing piles of debris from line construction. Incident Commander Taiga Rohrer stated, “The rain is delaying the game, but there is still lots of work in putting this fire to bed.”  Primary efforts will focus on suppression repair efforts from here on as we monitor and search for any new fire activity.  Snags and hazard trees are being identified and fallen as necessary.   

Resources:
Resources assigned to the Complex include 12 Crews, two helicopters, one fixed wing aircraft, 12 Engines, 1 Dozer, and 4 Water Tenders. There are a total of 599 personnel including the U.S. Army Taskforce Spearhead of 245 soldiers.

Closures:
Current forest closures are still in effect, however, these closures are being re-evaluated and some of the road system will be re-opened this Friday when the Forest issues a revised and updated closure order.  Oregon Department of Transportation is monitoring the situation along State Highway 138 carefully to ensure safe conditions for travelers.

For public safety, a closure order remains in place for areas of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. The closure area map can be viewed at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd558669.pdf. The North Umpqua River remains closed from Soda Springs Dam to Susan Creek Campground. The north shore of the river from Panther Creek including Road (FR 4714) to Susan Creek is open to anglers only. 

9/21/2017 Sawmill Creek, American & Norse Fire Update

9/21/2017 Chetco Bar Fire Update

9/21/2017 Diamond Creek Fire Update

 

Diamond Creek Fire: Thursday September 21, 2017

Suppression Repair Work Continues


Location:  11 miles NNW of Mazama, WA                                
Total Personnel: 
 249
Acres:  129,000 total acres in US and Canada               
Cause:  
Under Investigation
Containment:  65%                                                                  
Start Date:  July 23, 2017
Note:  The increase in percent contained reflects the percent of operational objectives completed.
Update: 
Yesterday helicopters flew for the first time in several days dropping firefighters off to assess suppression repair work. In addition to retrieving hose lay, firefighters unwrapped a cabin in the Hidden Lakes area. Wrapping is a technique where heat reflective material is used to protect structures potentially in the path of a fire.  
There was more good work done with suppression repair. One of the areas of work was along the 500 Road. 
Despite the recent days of cloud cover and light drizzle, the fire has still not received “wetting rains.” A wetting rain is a rain of 0.1 inch or more. For example, the most rain reported yesterday in the eastern end of the fire was 0.05 inch. 
Six fire crews, three engines, two helicopters and one dozer remain on the incident. Fire managers have received all resources needed to complete suppression efforts.
It is important to remember that the emergency caused by the wildfire is not necessarily over when the smoke dissipates. Completion of the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment over the coming days and weeks will address public safety. 
Today’s Activities: Suppression repair work will continue on the 500 Road and other areas along the contingency fire lines. Crews will continue to remove and stack felled trees using feller bunchers, and pile/chip debris created during construction of the primary and contingency lines.
Weather:  The Diamond Creek Fire will see two more days of unsettled cool weather under the influence of a large upper trough. The trough will slowly be exiting to the east, thus precipitation potential will be trending downward each day. Clouds will increase today and there is a 40% chance of rain and snow, depending on elevation. Winds will be 4-8 mph in the valleys and 10-15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph during the afternoon on ridgetops.
Smoke:  Continued moisture will further reduce the production of smoke from the Diamond Creek Fire and other fires in the area. Expect good air quality conditions over the next couple of days with the possibility of smoke and haze in valley bottoms in the nighttime hours.

Closures: Due to moderating fire behavior and completed line construction, areas on the east and west sides of the Diamond Creek Fire are being opened for public use effective September 18. On the west side, Hart’s Pass Road, Robinson Creek and Middle Fork of the Pasaytan River are now open. Open on the east side are Falls Creek, Black Lake, the lower section of Andrew’s Creek and the Chewuch 510 trail to the confluence of Basin Creek. Maps have been posted to the Diamond Creek Fire InciWeb and Facebook pages.

Evacuation Alert Level:  The Evacuation Level remains at a Level 1 “Alert”.

Information: (509)996-4040 from 8 am – 6 pm
Website: inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5409/
Facebook: facebook.com/diamondcreekfire2017
Smoke Conditions: wasmoke.blogspot.com
#DiamondCreekFire #WaWildfire

9/21/2017 Eagle Creek Fire AM Update

Morning Update
Eagle Creek Fire
September 21, 2017 9:00 a.m.

Fire Information: 541-392-1632 (8 a.m. - 8 p.m.) or eaglecreekfire2017@gmail.com

Eagle Creek Fire Size: approx. 48,668 acres                                  
Eagle Creek Fire Containment: 46%                                   

Summary:
Cool and moist conditions continue to prevail across the fire, resulting in no measured growth over the past 24 hours. Fire behavior remains minimal. Most portions of the fire are in a smoldering state, though some open flame has been observed. Moisture can be slow to penetrate larger fuels (downed trees, snags, etc.), which may continue to burn for some time. Smoke can still be seen from portions of the fire. Crews remain in place to patrol and extinguish hot spots along the fire’s perimeter, while they work on soil stabilization projects.

Flash flood watches for the fire area have expired, but many hazards remain. The Oregon Department of Transportation continues to assess public safety hazards along the I-84 corridor. The public is reminded to drive slowly through the fire area, be aware of traffic restrictions and respect closures that have been issued. There is high potential for falling trees, falling rock and debris slides within the fire area.

Northwest Team 12 became fully operational yesterday from an Incident Command Post located in Cascade Locks at the Best Western Columbia River Inn. The new team has begun placing orders for some additional resources as it develops a plan to manage the fire area. While no significant change in fire behavior is expected, fire managers are developing contingency plans if weather shifts back toward a warmer, drier pattern.

Today, limited repair activities will continue while wet conditions persist. Suppression repair activities will increase as conditions improve. Managers from the USDA Forest Service and other agencies are engaged in post fire restoration strategy implementation.
Weather is expected to remain cooler and moist through this evening, shifting to a drier pattern on Friday.

Resources Assigned: 1-Type 2 Initial Attack Crew; 6 Engines; 2 Heavy Equipment; 1 Helicopter; 167 Personnel (On order: 1 Additional Type 2 Initial Attack Crew, 4 Heavy Equipment)


Additional fire, closure and evacuation information can be found at the following sites: