Saturday, July 27, 2013

Douglas Complex Information

For information about the Douglas Complex of wildfires burning near Glendale in Douglas, see a page dedicated to that fire on InciWeb.

Here's some information from a news release issued by the incident management team that is in charge of the fire's suppression:

It is estimated that about 7,500 acres have been burned between all the fires. A majority of the fires in the Douglas Complex are located in the Cow Creek Canyon west of Glendale. In addition, a handful of fires in the Milo area are included in the Complex. The total number of fires is expected to decrease as several fires in close proximity to each other have burned together.

Evacuations have begun west of McCullough Creek, in the Glendale area. At this time, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is evacuating all homes west of McCullough Creek Road to Reuben. Residents east of McCullough Creek Road to the mill west of Glendale are being asked to prepare for potential evacuation. This means residents are warned that should conditions worsen, they also will be asked to evacuate.

Places to get information:

Evening Update for Fires on ODF-Protected Lands in Josephine County

A flurry of rumors of evacuations in Wolf Creek and other areas circulated late this afternoon after most of Josephine County was swallowed by smoke. The brisk breeze that bedeviled firefighters much of the day abruptly died around 5:00 p.m. and rumors about evacuations were rampant.

The only evacuation -- and it was an advisory -- occurred today along Illinois River Rd where campers were being told to prepare to leave if the Labrador Fire continued to grow. No evacuations occurred in Wolf Creek, Selma or anywhere else.

Firefighters on the 24 lighting-caused fires on Oregon Dept. of Forestry-protected lands had their hands full most of the day as the aforementioned brisk winds kept several of the fires active.
  • The 70-acre Farmer Gulch Fire west of Wolf Creek slowly grew, but continual battering by helicopters and air tankers kept the flanks of the fire in check. The fire is slowly chewing downhill, and residents below the fire have been advised to make evacuation plans should it become necessary; Wolf Creek Fire Dept. and Rural Metro Fire Dept. firefighters are keeping a close eye on the situation.
  • The 200-300-acre Brimstone Fire located 5 miles west of Sunny Valley was also very active today, and helicopters and air tankers pounded hot spots and flanks with buckets of water and loads of retardant.
  • The Big Windy Fire, located 10 miles west of Galice, near to Bear Camp Rd, is being turned over to an incident management team.
  • Fires in the Hog Creek and Grave Creek areas were also quite active today.
While many fires are burning in Josephine County, the bulk of the smoke in the air over the county is coming from fires in Douglas County. People having trouble with coping with the smoke are advised to stay indoors and run air conditioners or the furnace fan (without turning on the heat) to filter smoke particles out of the air inside the house. For more information about coping with wildfire smoke, see this article.

Southwest Oregon Fire Update

Winds created a number of challenges for firefighters working active fires across SW OR today.  Acreage numbers are difficult to estimate at this time and there should be new numbers tomorrow morning.  Status as of 6 PM:

The Big Windy Fire, in the Big Windy Creek area south of the Rogue River continues to grow in areas difficult for firefighters to access. The rugged, steep country combined with gusty winds allowed the fire to become well established today.  This fire could pose a threat to the Bear Camp Road system tonight or tomorrow.  Anyone travelling on the road is advised to use caution, watch out for fire vehicles, and heed warnings.  The fire is expected to actively burn throughout the night.  A Type I incident management team has been ordered to work this fire and several others in the Rogue River corridor west of Merlin.

The Douglas Complex fires were active this afternoon and the Dad's Creek Fire is threatening some structures west of Glendale.  The Rabbit Mountain Fire threw a spot fire on the south side of Cow Creek that is currently causing containment problems.  The Type II incident management team is in place at the Glendale High School.

The Whiskey Complex on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua NF also saw growth this afternoon with the Whiskey Fire estimated at 1200-1500 acres and the complex total about 1800 acres.  A Type II incident management team is in place and will assume command of the fire tomorrow morning.

The Labrador Fire was shaded throughout most of the day by smoke from the Douglas Complex.  The smoke made it difficult to see the entire fire from the air.  Firefighters did observe active fire backing down slope.  The Type II incident management team is in place at Lake Selmac and will take over the fire tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning we hope to have contact numbers for information officers attached to the teams.  A Joint Information Center is also being started and should be operational late Sunday or Monday morning.  When those contact numbers become available, we will send those out.

[ posted by Jim Whittington, public affairs, Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management ]

Labrador Fire Approximately 300 Acres

Today was another relatively active day for fire behavior on the Labrador Fire located south/west of the Illinois River and downstream of Oak Flat close to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.  The fire is currently estimated to be approximately 300 acres in size.

Challenges to the firefighters include post-Biscuit Fire conditions, which include scores of standing dead snags and 20 foot-high brush fields.  The snags have a tendency to fall over, roll down hill and then re-ignite, making conditions very treacherous for the firefighters on the ground.

“This is a classic example of a situation that shouts watch out from a safety standpoint and all of our strategies must reflect firefighter safety as a top priority while suppressing this fire,” said Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Fire Management Officer Kevin Donham.

The Labrador Fire continues to back down toward the Illinois River and it remains active on all perimeters.  Structure protection at Oak Flat has been the #1 priority.  Firefighting resources have been staged on local property while the Incident Command Post takes shape.  All private property structures have been triaged and assessed by structure protection specialists on scene.

Conditions were very smoky all day, making it difficult to obtain a good size up of the current fire perimeter. Firefighters scouted the fire area today to identify the most strategic locations for containment lines.

“We appreciate the willingness of local property owners to provide our firefighters  with a staging area in relatively close proximity to the fire. We also appreciate the access that is being provided through locked gates on private land,” said Wild Rivers District Ranger Roy Bergstrom.

The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is prepared to lead evacuation efforts should they become necessary.  Private property owners are encouraged to cooperate with sheriff deputies throughout this fire season due to the potential for extreme fire behavior.  The Josephine County Search and Rescue Unit are currently staffing the road block at Lake Selmac.  Road and trail closures along the Illinois River Road are expected to be implemented soon.

“We appreciate Josephine County providing the facilities at Lake Selmac for the Incident Command Post.  It is conveniently located for the suppression work that needs to be done to effectively fight this fire,” said Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest  Supervisor Rob MacWhorter.

 [ posted by Virginia Gibbons, public affairs, Rogue River-Siskiou National Forest ]

Labrador Fire Update

Although firefighters contained 5 of 6 fire starts on the Rogue River- Siskiyou National Forest yesterday, concern remains high regarding the fire situation and potential for large fire growth regarding the numerous fires burning in SW Oregon. 
 
On the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the Labrador Fire has grown to approximately 300 acres in size and remains active on all perimeters. The fire is located west of the Illinois River downstream of Oak Flat and is either burning close to, or may have moved into, the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.
 
Aerial resources currently assigned to the Labrador Fire include air attack, however, due to poor visibility, air tankers cannot be utilized at this time.  Five large federal air tankers and three Oregon Department of Forestry air tankers will be utilized as needed when visibility allows on the numerous fires in the area, as well as for initial attack on new starts.  An aircraft coordinator has been ordered to manage the numerous air resources that have been called in to assist with the fires.
 
A Type 2 Incident Management Team (Brett Fillis) will receive an in briefing for the Labrador Fire at 12 noon today.  The Incident Command Post for the fire team will be located at Lake Selmac in Selma.
 
Resources assigned to the Labrador Fire include  8 smokejumpers, 1 hotshot crew, 1 Type 2 initial attack crew, and 6 engines.  Additional firefighting resources ordered include 2 hotshot crews and 5 Type 2 initial attack crews, two medium helicopters and 1 light helicopter.  These additional resources are expected to be on scene today.
 
The public is advised to be extremely careful during this fire season, as conditions in southwest Oregon are very similar to conditions during the Biscuit Fire of 2002. For your own personal safety, please cooperate with local law enforcement officers should evacuations become necessary in your area ; a fire behavior advisory is currently in place for SW Oregon. 
 
[ posted by Virginia Gibbons, public affairs, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest ]

Southwest Oregon Wildfire Update

The Douglas Complex, which includes about 40 fires along the Douglas/Josephine County line, is estimated to total about 4,000 acres.  Most of the acres are from fires near Rabbit Mountain and Dad's Creek in Douglas County.  Many of the smaller fires are contained but may require additional work and monitoring over the next few days.  An Oregon Dept. of Forestry Type II incident management team assumed command of the complex at 8 AM this morning and the incident command post is at Glendale High School.

Two fires on tributaries of the Rogue River were active last night and are continuing to grow this morning.  The Big Windy Fire, in the Big Windy Creek area down river from Merlin, is about 50 acres.  The fire is in rugged terrain and firefighters are experiencing difficulty in accessing and attacking the fire from safe positions.  With winds predicted to be near 20 mph today, it is likely this fire will continue to grow.  The Brimstone Fire is in the Hog Creek area on the north side of the Rogue River.  It is currently about 100 acres.  Firefighters believe they have an opportunity to check the spread sometime today, depending on winds and other conditions.
 
The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has ordered a Type II incident management team for the 300 acre Labrador Fire, which is west of Selma near Briggs Creek Campground and the border of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.  The fire is on the south side of the river and active on all sides. Smoke has limited the visibility and prevented air resources from engaging this morning.  As weather conditions change later in the day, visibility should increase.  The incident management team will have their incident command post at Lake Selmac.

The Tiller Ranger District, on the south end of the Umpqua National Forest has ordered a Type II incident management team for the Whisky Complex.  The complex consists of three fires, the largest of which is the Whisky Fire at 800 acres.  This fire produced the smoke column visible from Medford yesterday afternoon.  The other two fires are the Buckeye (150 acres) and the Big Brother (10 acres).

Additional crews, engines and overhead resources will be arriving today.  There are five federal air tankers and three ODF air tankers available for use. 

From Roseburg south to the California border, The Umpqua National Forest, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Douglas Forest Protective Association, Coos Forest Protective Association, Oregon Department of Forestry, Roseburg District BLM and Medford District BLM responded to close to 100 fire starts over the last 24 hours.  Coordination and sharing of resources, including crews, overhead, and aircraft, were key to keeping most of the fires small.  
 
[ posted by Jim Whittington, public affairs, Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management ]

Overnight Wind Stirs Up Fires on ODF-Protected Lands in Josephine County

[ Updated 3:20 p.m. ]


Gusty winds overnight caused a few of the fires being battled by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Grants Pass Unit to grow. The Brimstone Fire, located 5 miles southwest of Sunny Valley, grew to 100 acres, and the Farmer Gulch Fire (see photo), 2 miles west of Wolf Creek grew to 20 70 acres. The Big Windy Fire also grew significantly; the fire is composed of several lightning-caused fires, and area is mostly roadless and rugged. Big Windy is estimated at over 100 acres and is located 10 miles west of Galice and about 1 mile south of the Rogue River in the Black Bar area.

The rest of the fires in the complex of lightning-caused fires managed by ODF's Grants Pass Unit caused no further problems overnight.

Friday, July 26, 2013

More Info on SW Oregon Wildfires

Firefighters were able to contain most of the starts from this morning.  However, several fires are causing issues this evening.

In the Cow Creek area along the border between Josephine and Douglas County, there are two fires of 500+ acres.  An ODF Type II incident management team has been called in to manage these two plus any additional work needed on approximately 40 other fires in the area.  The team will be based out of the Glendale High School and will assume command at 0800 tomorrow.

A fire in the Big Windy drainage south of the Rogue River is currently 20+ acres. The fire was active this afternoon and firefighters retreated when winds picked up and increased fire activity.  Work will continue through the night and there is a good chance containment could be reached by tomorrow.

The column of smoke visible to the NNW of Medford is the Whisky Fire on the Umpqua National Forest.  The Buckeye Fire is also in the same area.

Resources continue to arrive in SW OR.  Additional Hot Shot crews, other hand crews, engines, and air resources are scheduled to arrive tonight and Saturday.

For Saturday, temperatures should be slightly cooler with highs in the low-mid 90s and gusty winds up to 20 mph.

[ from Jim Whittington, public affairs office, Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management ]

Labrador Fire Burns 45 Acres Near Kalmiopsis Wilderness

In addition to the numerous fire starts on Oregon Department of Forestry, Medford Bureau of Land Management and Coos Fire Protection Association lands, firefighters are currently busy fighting the Labrador Fire, which was estimated to be approximately 45 acres in size at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon. Several other fires reported on the Rogue River-Siskiyou NationalForest earlier today were staffed with firefighting resources and have been contained.  Aerial reconnaissance flights continue to monitor the area for additional starts.

The Labrador Fire is located south of the Illinois River and downstream of Oak Flat, approximately 1 mile SW of Briggs Creek Campground and within 1 mile (east) of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Fire behavior was active throughout the afternoon. All sides of the fire perimeter remain active. Private land inholdings in the Oak Flat area are currently at risk and fire officials are in contact with local residents.

Resources assigned to the fire include a Type 3 Incident Management Team (Monty Edwards), 8 smokejumpers, 1 hotshot crew, 1 Type 2 initial attack crew, and 6 engines.  Air tankers have dropped at least one load of retardant and three additional loads have been ordered.  Other firefighting resources ordered include 2 hotshot crews and 5 Type 2 initial attack crews, two medium helicopters and 1 light helicopter.  These additional resources are expected to be on scene tomorrow morning. A Type 2 Incident Management Team is also being ordered.

The public is advised to be extremely careful during this fire season, as conditions in southwest Oregon are very similar to conditions during the Biscuit Fire of 2002. For your own personal safety, please cooperate with local law enforcement officers should evacuations become necessary; a fire behavior advisory is currently in place for SW Oregon.  

[ from Virginia Gibbons, public affairs, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest ]

Twenty-Four Lightning Fires Found on ODF-Protected Lands in Josephine County

Fire crews, engines, helicopters and air tankers fanned out across Josephine County forestlands today and found 24 fires on Oregon Dept. of Forestry-protected lands, which include state, county and Bureau of Land Management lands. The largest fire being fought by ODF crews is the 20-acre Big Windy 16 Fire, located 10 miles west of Galice. The second largest fire is the 15-acre Brimstone Fire, located 5 miles southwest of Sunny Valley.

The other fires include:
  • Three fires in the Hog Creek area, one of which is 5 acres and the other two combined total less than one acre;
  • The Malone Peak Fire, which is 4 acres;
  • The 4-acre McKnab Creek Fire, which has a fireline around it and mop-up is underway;
  • The 3-acre Crooks Creek Fire;
  • A 1 1/2-acre fire on Pickett Creek that has a fireline around it and mop-up is underway;
  • The 4-acre Farmers Gulch Fire;
  • Two fires in the Kelsey Peak area that have a combined total of less than 2 acres;
  • The remaining fires are one acre in size or smaller.
On Saturday, the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Grants Pass Unit will be staffing all active fires, using many contractor crews and equipment, and ODF engines and personnel from other parts of western Oregon.

Fire Crews Fan Out Across Josephine County Forests

More a dozen lightning-caused fires have been found on lands protected by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry's Grants Pass Unit crews. The fires were caused by a dry lightning storm that crossed over Josephine County late last night and early this morning.

The fires on lands protected by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry are burning on Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County, and private forestlands.

Here is a rundown of the fires:

Two fires in the Hog Creek area are small and are either lined or knocked down.
  • A 4-acre fire in the Malone Peak area has firefighters working on it, and additional crews have been ordered.
  • A 4-acre fire in the McKnab Creek area has a crew and a bulldozer working their way into it, and an airtanker has dropped loads of retardant onto it.
  • A 5-acre fire near to Brimstone Rd has an airtanker dropping retardant onto it.
  • A crew is building fireline around the 3-acre Crooks Creek Fire.
  • Two engines and a helicopter are working on a 1 1/2-acre fire in the Pickett Creek area.
  • Two half-acre fires on Kelsey Peak have not yet been staffed.
  • Crews are walking into fires on Kelsey Peak, Bald Ridge and several other locations.
There are three helicopters and two airtankers flying far and wide today, helping crews by dropping water and retardant.

Overnight Thunderstorm Scatters Lightning Across Josephine County

Oregon Dept. of Forestry firefighters were shaken out of bed around 4:00 a.m. by thunderclaps across the mountains of Josephine County. A reconnaissance flight took off from Medford Airport shortly after dawn, and firefighters and helicopters are shuttling from ODF's Medford Unit to the Grants Pass Unit.

Quite a few smokes have been reported:
  • Two fires in the Mooney Mtn. area. The largest fire is estimated at 3 acres;
  • Two fires in the Wolf Creek area;
  • One 3-acre fire in the Shan Creek area;
  • Additional smokes have been reported in the Lower Graves Creek and Hog Creek areas;
  • Several smokes are dotted along the border between Josephine County and Douglas County.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fire Danger Extreme on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Fire managers have raised fire danger on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest’s High Cascades, Siskiyou Mountains and Wild Rivers Ranger Districts to extreme.  Prolonged abnormally dry conditions, which are expected to persist and intensify through the summer months, along with the recent triple digit temperatures in the inland areas of southwest Oregon have accelerated the drying of forest fuels, increasing the potential for rapid fire spread and resistance to control efforts.

Public Use Restrictions for that part of the Rogue Wild and Scenic River managed by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest from Marial to Watson Creek will also increase effective Wednesday, July 24, 2013.  These restrictions include:

Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire except: In commercially produced pressurized liquid or gas stoves.  Cooking areas are to be naturally free of vegetation below the high water mark from Marial downstream to the mouth of Watson Creek.  Each group must have a shovel and bucket.

Smoking except within the following locations:  While aboard a watercraft while navigating, or at rest, on a waterway or on sand and gravel bars between the river and the high water mark naturally free of flammable vegetation. 

“Our fire potential indices are reaching record levels on the interior portion of the Forest,” noted Fire Staff Kevin Donham.  “A Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory was issued to fire managers over the weekend for much of the southwest Oregon area indicating current fire behavior is at a level two to four weeks ahead of average for this time of year.  All wildland firefighting agencies in the area have their guard up under these types of conditions. We are urging the public to respect the restrictions put in place on both public and private lands in order to minimize the chance of human caused fires during these severe conditions.”

Public Use Restrictions on smoking, campfires, internal combustion engines and other forest activities are located at www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou or any Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest office.  The Industrial Fire Precaution Level remains at Level II or “partial hoot-owl”, restricting the use of power saws, cable yarding, blasting and welding for all contractors and permit holders from 8 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Fire Prevention Regulations Increase in Wild & Scenic Section of Rogue River

The public use fire danger level on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District climbs to “extreme” (red) in the Wild & Scenic Section of the Rogue River at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, July 24. No open fires of any kind will be allowed.

The Oregon Department of Forestry protects the Wild & Scenic Section of the Rogue River between Grave Creek and Marial. The remainder of the Wild & Scenic Section is protected by the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Here are the regulations going into effect on Wednesday:
  • Smoking will be prohibited except in boats on the water, and on naturally vegetation-free gravel bars and sand bars below the river’s high-water mark.
  • Open fires will be prohibited, including camp fires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires. However, portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels will be allowed on naturally vegetation-free gravel bars and sand bars below the high-water mark
  • Travelers must carry a shovel and bucket (one-gallon size).
  • Fireworks will be prohibited.

For further information about fire restrictions in all parts of the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River, contact the Smullin Visitor Center located at the Rand National Historic Site at (541) 479-3735. 

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

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Smoke Rapidly Recedes from Pacifica Fire

One hundred and fifty firefighters are fanned across the 500-acre Pacifica Fire today hunting down and extinguishing the few remaining hot spots. The fire broke out Friday afternoon and 150 structures were threatened. Structural firefighters and engines were called in from across Jackson and Josephine counties, and additional help was brought in from fire departments in Lincoln, Linn, Lane and Marion counties. Oregon Dept. of Forestry crews and other southwest Oregon wildland firefighters worked into Saturday morning to completely encircle the blaze with fireline.

Early this morning, the out-of-area structural firefighters and their engines were released from the Pacifica Fire, as was the Oregon State Fire Marshal's incident management team.

Working on the fire today are five 20-person crews, ten wildland fire engines and three water tenders. They will be patrolling the blackened area to dig out and extinguish hot spots deep inside the fireline.

Assistance during the firefight late Friday was provided by the Josephine and Jackson counties' sheriffs' and emergency management departments, and Josephine County Search and Rescue. Personnel from these entities staffed roadblocks, notified residents about the fire threat, and answered phones at Josephine County's emergency operations center. Facilities for the incident command post were supplied by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department and Pacifica.