Thursday, August 8, 2013

Big Windy Complex Update

Big Windy Complex Overview:
  • Acres: 14,085
  • % Contained: 5% (Estimated Containment Date: 09/01/2013)
  • Total Personnel: 1,339
Note: The three fires of the Big Windy Complex grew together on August 6
  • A community meeting will be held at the Galice Community Hall at 4:00 p.m. this evening. A Level 1 Notice has been issued for the area of Galice Access Road, see below.
  • The formation of smoke columns is possible with potential increased fire activity associated with clear skies.
  • A red flag warning for thunderstorms with dry lightning will continue through the evening, thunderstorms to beginning around 2-3 p.m. with possible 30 percent chance of rain. As we move into this evening and Friday, the thunderstorms have potential to drop brief, yet heavy rainfall.
  • With the clearing of smoke and good visibility after days of smoky skies, the air group is more than ready to assist with ground operations today.   Two heavy helicopters, and two light helicopters will provide water bucket support on the N, W and E flanks of the fire. One fixed wing air attack plane will provide reconnaissance over the fire area.
  • Firefighters continue making good progress on the north flank building containment lines; approximately two more days work to finish this area. Containment line on the NE is progressing. Operations, weather and fire behavior specialists from the Big Windy Complex are coordinating closely with their counterparts from the Rabbit Mt and Dad’s Creek Fires to make firefighting operations as safe and efficient as possible.
  • Work on the western ridge continues slowly with equipment building dozer line in tough terrain.
  • Firing operations were successfully completed on the south flank along Bear Camp Road. Crews are following behind the burnout operations with mop up to cool the burned areas. Firefighters continue to work on burnout operations, as weather conditions allow, along the SE and E flanks in an effort to connect line from Peavine Road to the river. Extremely steep slopes, oak litter and rocky conditions are creating challenges.  Crews are working diligently to hold and secure lines where burnout operations have been completed.
Operations Summary:
  • Ground Operations: Firefighters have made excellent progress with containment lines in all divisions, and continue looking for opportunities for secondary contingency lines on the east side of the fire and north of the Rogue River. Burnout is continuing in the SE corner.  No spots associated with burnout, and this area remains critical to hold. Crews will continue burning today and moving in a northerly direction. Clean air may be a catalyst for increased fire behavior and crews are on alert to watch for fire getting established below them.  Burning conditions are good for crews achieving their objectives for the day; along with this comes a greater potential for spotting across the fire lines.
  • At the Black Bar Lodge, crews will continue firing operations to create a blackened area around the lodge to help protect it.  At Zane Grey’s cabin, crews are ready to begin burnout operations. Firefighters remain north of the Rogue River in the Horseshoe Bend area to watch for spotting.  Crews and heavy equipment operators continue to work with Rural Metro Fire Department to improve fire line and roads, scout for contingency control lines and prep for burnout operations for the community of Galice.  Preparations have been completed in the Meadow Creek area. Coordination with all agencies and partners continue.
Closures in Place:
  • The Bear Camp Road (BLM # 34-8-36 and Forest Service #23) is officially closed with closure orders and maps issued by the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management/Grants Pass Interagency Office and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest/Gold Beach Ranger District. See websites above for additional information. The National Guard is providing staffing at all road closure checkpoints.
  • Burnt Ridge Road, Forest Service Road 2308, is closed from the junction with Forest Road 2300 to the junction with Forest Road 3300.
  • Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch.
  • The BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River is closed from Grave Creek to Mule Creek due to extreme fire conditions and public health and safety issues.
Evacuations: A level 2 (level 2 means be prepared to leave if asked by a law enforcement or fire official)evacuation notice  is in place starting at the Marial Lodge and following the Rogue River east to Grave Creek, then north and west on the Marial Byway back to the Marial Lodge.

A Level 1 Notice has been issued for the area of Galice Access Road, including the Galice Access Rd - north to the Graves Creek Bridge along Galice Road. Level 1 means persons are alerted that current or projected threats from hazards associated with the approaching fires may be severe. This is the time for preparation and precautionary movement of persons with special needs, mobile property, and possibly pets and livestock.

Big Windy Complex: Consists of the Big Windy (Josephine County), Calvert Peak and Jenny Fires (Curry County)..  Located on Medford District Bureau of Land Management lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry, Started: July 26, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.  Cause: Lightning Location: Approximately 8 miles NW of Galice.
VALUES AT RISK: Boaters and campers on the Rogue River, Wild and Scenic River below Grave Creek, economic considerations associated with recreation, Black Bar Lodge (18 structures), Zane Grey Historical Cabin, Marial Lodge, Rogue River Ranch, cultural resources, threatened & endangered species habitat, late successional reserves, fisheries and wildlife.
WEATHER: E-NE winds today gusts to 30-35 MPH during thunderstorms, RH 30 – 40%, maximum temperatures 68-70 on the ridges and 78-83 degrees in the valleys. There is a red flag warning in effect for thunderstorms with dry lightning transitioning into wet thunderstorms throughout the day and into the evening. If thunderstorms occur, winds gusts up to 35 MPH may complicate firefighting efforts in some locations.

FIRE BEHAVIOR: Fire activity may increase with clear and unstable air. Short crown runs are still possible. If wind gusts develop due to thunderstorms, expect rapid increases in flame lengths, rate of spread, and possible crown fire.  If increased gusting winds occur, spotting distance may be as far as .7 miles.
RESOURCES ASSIGNED:  8 Type 1 hotshot crews, 27 Type 2 hand crews, 2 heavy helicopters, 2 light helicopters, 48 engines, 16 dozers and 16 water tenders, 3 camp crews and 123 National Guard members. Total personnel assigned is 1,339.

SAFETY CONCERNS: Steep and unforgiving terrain, mixing of fire and public traffic (particularly on one-lane roads), variable and unpredictable winds in the river corridor, ticks, bee stings, hazard trees, poison oak, poor air quality, aviation operations, extreme fire behavior, railroad crossings, black bears and cougars.  Safety trends include bee stings, and knee and ankle injuries.

COOPERATING AGENCIES & PARTNERS: Oregon Department of Forestry, Medford District Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County, Curry County, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Jackson County, Rural Metro Fire Department.