Friday, September 13, 2013

Flare-Ups, Road Closures Continue on Douglas Complex

The warm, windy conditions over much of Southern Oregon this week haven’t stopped firefighters from making good progress on the Douglas Complex.  One hundred and fifty fire personnel remain assigned to the incident, continuing post-fire suppression activities.  The main objectives continue to be mopping up hot spots, working on rehab projects, and patrolling the fire lines.  Firefighters have also stopped several small flare ups, well within the interior of the fire.  These flare-ups have occurred in areas that didn’t burn clean.  While these flare-ups haven’t posed a threat to containment lines, fire officials are trying to minimize the loss of resources and habitat in these areas.  With these interior pockets occasionally burning, in addition to other smoldering material in the interior of the fire area, some smoke from the Douglas Complex will be visible until significant rain showers return to the area.

The BLM has extended the road closure for the general public around the Douglas Complex until the end of the month.  At that point, they will reassess the situation with the road closures.  The road closures are in effect for the safety of firefighters and the public while work continues in the fire area.  In addition to the potential for rolling rocks and falling trees in the burned area, many roads that fire trucks, water tenders, heavy equipment, and fire crews are working on are narrow, windy, and have blind corners.  The public is asked to honor these road closures and stay out of the fire area.  More information about the road closure can be found online at www.blm.gov/or/districts/roseburg/newsroom/index.php or by calling the Roseburg BLM at (541) 440-4930, or the Medford BLM at (541) 471-6500.

Weather Change May Help Big Windy Complex Crews

Smoke will drift from the Big Windy Complex as an area along the north/northeast flank that flared up Wednesday continues to burn out. Helicopters hauled buckets of water into the Howard Creek drainage to cool down hotspots. Further helicopter activity in the same area is expected to take place today and through Saturday.

More than 120 firefighters are assigned to the Big Windy Complex today and will work on the 25,775-acre burned area throughout the weekend. Their primary tasks are to mop up around the perimeter of the fire, burn out unburned islands of vegetation inside the fireline, and monitor the interior of the burned area for flare-ups.

By late Saturday, a weather change is expected that will shift the wind pattern, bring a chance of showers, cooler temperatures and higher humidity. The prevailing air flow this past week has been from the north; starting late Saturday, the air flow will be from the west and the temperature in the Big Windy Complex area will drop into the 70s. There is a chance for thunderstorm activity on Sunday.

The Big Windy Complex is 90 percent contained.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Illinois River Road Re-Opens

The Illinois River Road (FS 4103) re-opened Wednesday, Sept. 11.  An ongoing assessment by fire operations personnel has shown the Labrador Creek Fire to display minimal fire activity. Although the fire has no containment lines around it, fire behavior has moderated sufficiently to allow public access to this popular recreation area.
 
The Labrador Creek Fire area is currently showing just a few isolated interior smokes. However, fire danger is expected to remain “Extreme” through the weekend; we advise anyone visiting the area to be cautious.  A small staff of firefighters and equipment will continue to patrol the area this weekend and beyond to keep a watch on fire behavior.
 
“We don’t anticipate the fire behavior to change significantly, but we will be prepared to take action if it does,” said Acting District Ranger Kevin Johnson.
 
Numerous standing dead trees with potentially weakened root systems remain within the fire area.  Again, taking appropriate cautionary measures, such as avoiding walking through areas with many standing weakened trees, is advised.
 
Personal Use Restrictions remain in effect on the forest. For a copy of the news release (August 28, 2013), posted closure order and Exhibit A, which lists the campgrounds where fires are allowed in designated fire rings, visit our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou.    Click on “News and Events” and “Alerts and Notices” to locate the above information.

Crews Monitor Flare-Up Inside Big Windy

More than 120 firefighters assigned to the Big Windy Complex continue the task of mopping up around the perimeter of the fire, burning out unburned islands of vegetation, and monitoring the interior of the burned area for flare-ups. A 20-acre flare-up Wednesday afternoon burned deep in the canyon where Howard Creek and Anna Creek converge. The flare-up pumped heavy smoke into northern Josephine County.

Contrary to earlier reports, yesterday's flare-up was not caused by burnout operations on the fire's west/southwest side.

Today, crews will monitor the flare-up and, if necessary, send helicopters with buckets in to cool down hotspots. Most of the flare-up occurred in an area where it is unsafe to send fire crews into. Using helicopters is the most effective way to contain flare-ups in the deep, remote canyons within the Big Windy Complex.

A series of infrared images were taken of the Big Windy Complex and the size of the burned area was revised to 25,775 acres. The complex is 90 percent contained.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Spotfire on the Big Windy Complex Puts Up A Lot of Smoke

A 15-acre spotfire along the north flank of the Big Windy Complex is putting up a lot of smoke today. The spotfire is in the the Anna Creek drainage, located on the north/northeast flank of the 24,253-acre wildfire complex that has been burning since late July.

The spotfire was not caused by burn-out operations that have been taking place during the past couple of days on the fire's west/southwest flank.

The spotfire is down in a deep, steep canyon that does not have a fireline. The area is too dangerous for crews to work in. However, most of the forest around the area in which the spotfire is burning was burned weeks ago.

Aircraft -- helicopters and an air tanker -- are dropping water and retardant on the spotfire to slow its advance.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Burnouts Put Up Smoke on Big Windy Fire

Fire crews working on the Big Windy Fire will be burning out on the west side of the fire today. There are some large unburned areas inside of the fireline that could flare up on their own during the hot days ahead. By burning them in a controlled manner, the risk of having a large flare-up later in the month will be reduced.

Approximately 150 personnel are assigned to the Big Windy Complex today, working on burn-out operations, mopping up and rehabilitating burned areas. The fire crews have ten engines, seven bulldozers, four helicopters and three water tenders available for immediate use. Burned area rehabilitation crews have several excavators, chippers and log loaders assigned to their projects.

The fire's size, 24,253 acres, remains unchanged, as does the level of containment, 87 percent. Bear Camp Road is open but all side roads in the fire area remain closed.