Monday, August 24, 2015

Burnout Operations Continue on Collier Butte Fire

Current Situation: 9,600 acres
40% Containment
241 Personnel
3 Crews
2 Dozers
2 Helicopters
8 Water Tenders
8 Engines

Yesterday, crews finished burning along the south containment lines, creating a fuel break from the Big Craggies to the 1376 road system. Firefighters will secure the fire’s edge by extinguishing burning vegetation along the completed containment lines. A helicopter equipped with an aerial ignition device will add depth to the burnout by dropping small incendiary spheres to remove interior pockets of unburned fuel. Other helicopters will be available for waters drops to cool hot spots and limit fire growth.

Firefighters will continue to patrol and secure containment lines on the west flank. Chipping and brushing operations will progress north from FR 3318 to the Illinois River to remove fuel along this alternate line. Crews and equipment will repair damage from fire suppression activities on alternate lines that are no longer needed.

The fire continues to slowly spread to the east in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, but has not crossed the Illinois River. Natural barriers with sparse vegetation are limiting fire growth in that direction. Helicopters may also be utilized to slow the fire from spreading eastward.

Burnout operations play an important role in securing the southern containment line by preventing the fire from spread into Mislatnah Creek and the Chetco River watershed. Current water sources in the vicinity have been adequate to support the needs of the burnout. To date, there has been no water withdrawal from the Chetco River, and none are anticipated. If absolutely necessary, however, the following measures will be taken: (1) tenders will be filled before leaving Gold Beach, (2) fish screens will be used in coho critical habitat, (3) no helicopters will dip from the Chetco, and (4) no more than 12,000 gallons per day would be removed – an impact of 0.03% of the overall daily flow.

Steep terrain, an abundance of snags and the potential for the fire to re-burn previously burned areas presents challenges to firefighter safety. Smoke may be visible throughout the remainder of the fire season. For information on closures on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, please see the Facebook page or the Inciweb page listed above.
Businesses along the south coast and Rogue River remain open and welcome visitors.

Residents and visitors to Gold Beach, Brookings and nearby communities are encouraged to drive carefully as firefighter traffic has increased in the area. With extreme drought conditions in southwestern Oregon, the public is encouraged to use caution outdoors. Any type of spark or flame may ignite a wildfire. Please follow local fire restrictions and remain mindful of fire prevention.