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Saturday, August 20, 2016

8/20/16 Withers Fire

Withers Fire:  As the hottest weather Paisley has had in five years continues, firefighters are strengthening and deepening containment lines and mopping up the Withers Fire on the steep hillsides northwest of town.

There is a Red Flag Warning in effect from noon to 9 p.m. today and a Fire Weather Watch from Sunday afternoon through Sunday evening for gusty winds with low relative humidity.  Fire danger remains extreme.

While firefighters are making excellent progress on containment, there is still active burning within the fire perimeter.  With the weather conditions predicted for today, there is potential for 8- to 10-foot flames and isolated torching within the fire area, which may be visible from Oregon State Highway 31 and nearby communities.

There could also be some smoke impacts to local communities, but it should be minimal.

A local Type 3 incident management team continues working on the fire.

While Hwy 31 remains open, there is a significant increase in fire traffic.  Minimizing travel in the area if possible will help both firefighter and public safety.  There is also a likelihood of increased air traffic in the area as part of firefighting efforts.  A temporary flight restriction is in place over the fire area.

As hot and dry conditions continue into the weekend – not only in South Central Oregon, but across the western United States – the National Interagency Fire Center has elevated the National Preparedness Level to 4 on a scale from 1 to 5.  This means more than three Geographic Areas are experiencing Type 1 and Type 2 incidents, there is competition for resources and 60 percent of Type 1 and Type 2 Incident Management Teams and crews are committed.  As the Withers Fire approaches containment and control, firefighting resources are prepared to continue their important mission locally, regionally and nationally as needed.

Residents and area visitors are asked to be vigilant with anything with a flame or spark.  Also, respect current Public Use and Fire Restrictions on federal and state lands in Lake and Klamath counties.  It only takes one coal or ember to spark a wildfire!

The cause is under investigation.  However, the evidence indicates arson and it is now a criminal investigation.  Anyone with information is asked to call 541-947-2504.

Expected Fire Behavior: Conditions continue to be hot and dry with relatively low fuel moistures.  Increased fire activity is likely as temperatures increase.
Weather: High temperatures will be in the 90s with low humidity.
Road Closures: Forest Road No. 33, also known as the River Road, from the junction with Forest Road No. 3315 to Jones Crossing, as well as Forest Road No. 3315 from the junction with Forest Road No. 33 to the intersection with Forest Road No. 3360 are closed.
Evacuation Information: The Level 3 Evacuation remains in place for campgrounds along the Chewaucan River and any residences along the River Road – anyone in this area needs to leave immediately.

Quick Facts
Incident Summary
Approximate Acreages

Withers Fire: 3,424 acres
Valley Falls Fire: 2.1 acres
JV Fire: 6.2 acres
Withers Fire: 56%
Valley Falls Fire: 100%
JV Fire: 100%
Incident Commander:
Leland Hunter, South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership Incident Management Team, Type 3
on the
Crews: 8
Squad: 0
Engines: 36
Water Tenders: 7
Bulldozers: 3
Helicopters: 2
Air Attack: 0
Structures Lost: 0
0 Residence
0 other structures
Bureau of Land Management & Oregon Department of Forestry
Level 3 “Go!” – Chewaucan River campgrounds and River Road

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