Monday, August 25, 2014

August 25 Pocket Card and Stat Update

Increasingly hot and dry weather is predicted across the district through the forecast period. Fires will continue to grow quickly and challenge initial attack resources. SWO district will maintain extreme fire danger this week and being increasing the IFPL to 3 starting August 26. For the latest pocket card and fire stats please visit the SWO Fire Data website. 

IFPL 3 Takes Effect (Again) Tomorrow

The Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) returns to Level 3 (three) tomorrow at 12:01 a.m. Under IFPL 3, the following fire prevention regulations will take effect on Tuesday, Aug. 26:
  • Cable yarding will not be allowed. However, gravity operated-logging systems employing non-motorized carriages may operate until 1:00 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m. These systems must have all blocks and moving lines suspended 10 feet above the ground, except the line between the carriage and the chokers;
  • Power saw use will not be allowed. However, power saws may be used until 1:00 p.m. and after 8:00 p.m. at loading sites and on tractor or skidder operations;
  • In addition, the following equipment and operations must shut down between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.:
    • Tractor/skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations where tractors, skidders or other equipment with a blade capable of constructing fireline are immediately available to quickly reach and effectively attack a fire start;
    • Mechanized loading or hauling of any product or material;
    • Blasting;
    • Welding or cutting of metal;
    • Any spark-emitting not specifically mentioned above.
 The following IFPL regulations are currently in effect and will remain in effect:
  • The use of fire in any form is prohibited;
  • Commercial operations must have fire suppression equipment on the job site;
  • Watchman service must be provided.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, contact the unit office in your area:
  • Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. Phone: (541) 664-3328
  • Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Drive, Grants Pass. Phone: (541) 474-3152

Friday, August 22, 2014

SWO Fires Receive IR Flights/Mapping

Today we were able to do reconnaissance flights with an infrared camera of the Oregon Gulch, Old Blue, and Rogue River Drive Fires. This allowed us to produce detailed heat signature maps that will focus crews on the remaining hot spots for mop-up. SWO Fire Data has been updated with these new maps. Please find them under the Maps heading then 2014 SWO District IR Maps.

Fire Line Terminology: Lined vs. Contained

When reporting progress toward containing a large wildfire, I will provide the amount of fire line that has been constructed and an estimate of the fire's level of containment. Both are expressed as percentages, but having a fire line completely around a fire doesn't necessarily mean the fire is completely contained.

Containment means there is little chance that a fire will be able generate enough intensity to jump the fire line and cause more trouble. A fire line all the way around a fire isn't the only factor in declaring a fire contained. The Oregon Department of Forestry likes to have a ring of completely extinguished area inside the fire line, which increases the distance between active flames in the center of the fire and the unburned fuel (vegetation) outside the fire line. On a large fire (100 acres or more) we shoot for having 300 feet inside the fire line completely mopped up before declaring it contained. If the fire has significant amounts of unburned fuel inside the fire line, we may not declare the fire contained until the areas of unburned fuel are burned up (by us, or by nature) or isolated (digging fire lines inside the main fire line to keep active flame from creeping or spotting into unburned areas).

It sometimes takes days or a week or more after a fire line is completed to be able to declare a fire contained.

ODF SWO District Fire Update

Yesterday afternoon, a fire broke out on McConville Pk., 6 miles north/northwest of Gold Hill, and was originally estimated to be 4 acres and growing. Three helicopters, a retardant bomber, several engines and a bulldozer were dispatched. Within an hour, the fire was knocked down by water drops from the helicopters and one load of retardant. Two of the helicopters, the retardant bomber, the bulldozer, and all but three of the engines were released. The fire was contained at less than 2 acres and was determined to be human-caused. Evidence was collected at the scene and the investigation into who caused the fire is underway.

The Old Blue Mountain Fire was 85 percent contained at the end of day on Thursday. Today, there are 4 crews, 5 engines and 4 water tenders working on mop up. Tonight, 1 crew, 2 engines and 2 water tenders will be assigned to patrol and mop up hot spots. Two 2-man teams will also be assigned to night shift to use hand-held infrared heat sensors to find buried coals.

The Rogue River Drive Fire was declared 100 percent contained Wednesday. Firefighters and engines continue to patrol the fire and mop up remaining hot spots.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Old Blue Mtn Fire 75 Percent Contained

Excellent progress on mopping up the Old Blue Mountain Fire has brought the containment level up to 75 percent this morning. The evacuation alert for Humbug Creek Rd was removed yesterday at 6:00 p.m., and the roadblock on the right fork of Foots Creek Rd was taken down at 8:00 a.m. today.

The fire is 99 acres in size and firefighters have completely mopped up all hot spots at least 200 feet inside the fire line. Their goal is to mop up 300 feet inside the fire line and remove hazard trees within 400 feet of the line.

Night shift is scaling back to one crew and two engines. The following fire suppression resources are assigned to the Old Blue Mountain Fire today:
  • 6 crews
  • 8 engines
  • 5 water tenders
  • 4 helicopters
  • 1 bulldozer
In addition, a strike team of engines is available for mop-up on the Old Blue Mountain Fire and for initial attack response to new fires that may break out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Evacuation Alert Lifted for Humbug Creek Rd Area

Fire officials monitoring the Old Blue Mountain Fire today will remove the Level 1 evacuation alert from homes on Humbug Creek Rd at 6:00 p.m. The portions of road affected by the alert include homes on the main fork (address 2542 and up) and the entire left fork.

The evacuation alert was ordered early Tuesday afternoon by Applegate Valley Fire District No. 9 and the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Grants Pass Unit.

The roadblock near the 4 mile marker on the right fork of Foots Creek Rd remains in place.

The Old Blue Mountain Fire is holding at 99 acres and mop-up is in full swing.