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Monday, August 29, 2016

8/29/2016 Rail Fire Update

Red flag weather will test recent fireline construction

Unity, Oregon – Multiple efforts underway yesterday at the 39,643-acre Rail Fire have brought rehabilitation and mop-up near completion on the North. Line construction and improvement continue to progress on the South. Dry fuels well within the firelines were consumed, contributing to hazy smoke.

The most active fire and firefighting work is occurring in the southern portion of the fire. Fire lines were initiated around a 175-acre area between Anderson Creek and the Little Malheur River where the fire crossed firelines Saturday night. The wind was low as dozers and hand crews working on the ground received air support from helicopters and Single Engine Air Tankers. Fire movement in this area was stopped. The firelines east of Lone Rock and Monument Rock continue to be widened and improved. Forest Road 16 has been closed and cleared of non-firefighting traffic and people between Roads 13 and 1680.

Last night’s night shift continued these tasks, burning out in strategic places along the southern flanks to remove fuel and widen firelines preparing for Red Flag weather expected today.

From 2 to 7 pm, SW winds (10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph), very low humidity (8-15%) and an unstable atmosphere (Haines 6) have the potential to produce extreme fire behavior. “This is the most severe fire weather that has occurred on the Rail fire in many weeks,” said Incident Commander Trainee Lonnie Click. “The unstable atmosphere is like opening a chimney damper, allowing air to be pulled in and heat and smoke to rise easily. The public will see a significant smoke column develop today and our containment lines will be tested as the fire is pushed toward the north and east.”

The northern perimeter is well contained, but at the southern edge of the fire, the constructed firelines between Lone Rock and Monument Rock are the most narrow and the lines around the SE corner are not yet well reinforced. Steep topography can funnel and concentrate winds, contributing to spotting. If the fire escapes containment lines it is likely to move faster than air support can check it.

Firefighters are well briefed and prepared for the forecasted weather. They are familiar with monitoring procedures and will move to safe areas well ahead of moving fire if necessary. Primary and alternate plans are in place to continue suppression operations.

Fire at a Glance
Size: 39,643 acres
Containment: 60%
Location: 5 miles west of Unity,Oregon
Cause: Under Investigation
Personnel: 770
18 Crews
38 Engines
6 Dozers
35 Water tenders
1 Masticator
5 Skidders/Skidgins
4 Type 1 heavy helicopters
1 Type 2 medium helicopter
2 Type 3 light helicopters
2 Single Engine Air Tankers
The fire area and nearby roads including FR16 are closed. The closure order can be found at
(Click “Maps” for the closure map)
Fire Information:
(541) 446-3592

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