Note: In addition to current major fire updates about Fires on ODF-protected land and fires burning on other lands, the Fire Update currently includes several important fire news items that can be found under “More Fire News” and a new Wildfire Smoke Forecast section.
Fire statistics will not be included until further notice.
FIRES ON OREGON DEPT. OF FORESTRY-PROTECTED LANDS
Southern Oregon continues to be the focus of firefighting activity in the state with numerous large fires burning in the region.
Tomorrow, Governor Kitzhaber is being briefed on southern Oregon wildfires from the Incident Command Post in Southern Oregon. For more information, see ‘Other Fire News’.
The 28,740-acre, lightning-caused Douglas Complex fires are burning seven miles north of Glendale in Douglas County, and are now 9 percent contained.
The Douglas Complex is the highest fire priority nationally for resources.
Approximately 470 homes are threatened. The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal is managing the fire jointly with Oregon Department of Forestry.
Oregon National Guard air and ground resources continue to be mobilized to the Douglas Complex, some will be helping with road and traffic control. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for Josephine County.
Douglas Complex Special Message: Evacuations have been downgraded to a level 2 for Reuben Road, Mt. Reuben Road and McCullough Creek Road in Douglas County. Residents will be allowed to return home on alert. The roads remain closed to the public. Josephine County remains the same with Level 3 evacuations for Poorman Creek, Lower Graves Creek Road, Grave Creek Road, and Lower Wolf Creek.
Please be aware and watch for scams related to donations for firefighters. If you are interested in donating, please look to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, Red Cross, or another established organization.
Current Situation: The Douglas Complex currently consists of Rabbit Mountain, on the west side of Interstate 5, northwest of Glendale, Dad’s Creek, west of Glendale, and the Farmer’s Fire south of Glendale. The Oregon Military Department and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management are assisting with response to the Douglas Complex. The Oregon Army National Guard is providing aviation assets at the request of the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Five aircraft are prepared to help with fire suppression including three HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and one UH-72 Lakota. Approximately 125 Soldiers along with 26 high mobility multi wheeled vehicles are also slated to be called-up on State Active Duty within the next 72 hours to assist with traffic control in the evacuated areas.
Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires, all less than 20 acres in size. These fires will be turned back to Douglas Forest Protective Association today. No further control problems are expected on these fires.
Near Middle Creek, firefighters continue to make progress on line construction as well as setting up hoses and water for use in extinguishing heat along the fire line. The containment line held yesterday with some mop up started.
The south end of the fire continues to burn actively near Grave Creek. Structural engines worked with hand crews to contain the spread of fire on the West end of Grave Creek road.
Approximately 30 homes are being threatened in the Grave Creek, Poorman Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek areas in Josephine County. Crews will continue to remove any vegetation that may be considered a fire hazard around structures in the Grave Creek and Wolf Creek area today.
The fire is expected to burn actively again in the afternoon when winds start to affect fire movement.
Weather: The marine layer will break sooner today. Temperatures will be up 5-10 degrees and humidity lower. Winds will pick up in the afternoon, coming from the west and rotating northwest with gusts up to 20miles per hour. A drying trend is forecasted for the weekend.
Evacuations and Closures:
• Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed. The public is asked to honor the road blocks and not interfere with firefighters working in the area.
• Evacuations have been downgraded to a level 2 for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County. Poorman Creek Road, Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County remain a level 3.
• Residences in the area are still considered threatened. This means evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future. Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County or Josephine County Sheriff’s Offices.
Fire Information Meetings: A public meeting is planned for tonight at the Glendale elementary school 6:30 pm.
Public Safety/Prevention: Firefighters are contending with hazards, like falling boulders and trees, old mine shafts, and narrow roads which are affecting access into some of the fire area. Values at risk include homes, commercial timberland, and critical wildlife habitat. There are no reports of homes burned. Two minor injuries have been reported. Two outbuildings have burned. To address any concern as a result of smoke in the area, an air quality sensor has been installed in Glendale. Go to www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com to track air quality measurements.
Douglas Forest Protective Association has increased prevention restrictions for both industry and the public. Check www.dfpa.net before commencing your activities.
Resources include: 52 Type 2 hand crews, 78 engines, 18 bulldozers, 19 water tenders and overhead personnel, as well as National Guard and State Fire Marshal Office resources. Air resources include 3 Type 1 helicopters, 6 Type 2 helicopters, and 2 Type 3 helicopters, plus 5 National Guard helicopters.
A total of 1,645 personnel are assigned to this fire.
For information about this fire: 541-832-0136; 541-832-0137
The lightning-caused Brimstone Fire is located 7 miles northwest of Merlin and 5 miles west of Sunny Valley and size has been updated to 2,218 acres. Crews continued aggressive suppression efforts and containment of the fire is now estimated at 25 percent.
Helicopters are dropping water on the fire today; winds may clear some smoke but could challenge containment.
No evacuation orders have been issued but some road closures are in effect:
• Hog Creek Road is closed at Merlin-Galice Road;
• Quartz Creek Road is closed at Hugo Road;
• Angora Creek Road is inaccessible due to Graves Creek Road closure
Structural fire protection personnel have assessed homes should an evacuation become necessary.
Approximately 700 personnel and firefighters are now assigned to the fire under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Resources include 26 crews, 31 engines, seven bulldozers, 7 helicopters and 15 water tenders. No injuries to fire personnel have been reported since the start of the fire.
Fire suppression costs to date are approximately $4 million. The fire is being managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry with many cooperators including the Office of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County Emergency Services, Josephine County Forestry, Josephine County Sheriff’s Department, Josephine County Search and Rescue, Rural Metro Fire Department, City of Grants Pass, and the National Weather Service.
Information about the Brimstone Fire can be learned by calling (541) 479-3842.
Information about other fires in southwest Oregon can be had by calling the Joint Information Center (JIC) at (541) 471-6620.
Big Windy Complex
The lightning-caused Big Windy Complex is now estimated at 5,132 acres. The Complex consists of the Big Windy (Josephine County), Calvert Peak and Jenny Fires (Curry County) and is located on Medford District, Bureau of Land Management lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. It is burning in steep river canyon country and is 0 percent contained.
Location is approximately 8 miles northwest of Galice; the north part of the fire is within two miles of Winkel Bar on the Rogue River. Pacific NW IMT2 is assigned to this fire. Spotting activity from the Jenny Fire has been observed up to 1/3 mile from the main fire perimeter. Concern remains that spot fires may cross the river in the Horsehoe Bend area. The fire currently remains south of the Rogue River.
News & Highlights for the Big Windy Complex:
Firefighters continue to work on hand line and dozer line along ridges and road systems on the east and west flanks of the fire as they implement an indirect strategy. The indirect strategy is the first and best option for success in suppressing fires located in rugged and inaccessible terrain.
With the lifting of the inversion coupled with predicted warmer weather over the next few days, fire behavior is expected to increase. An area of low pressure off the coast will lead to better smoke dispersion and increased mixing in the air with higher winds.
Oregon National Guard joins the multi-agency wildfire response in SW Oregon with 5 helicopters, 36 aviation personnel, and 125 ground personnel.
The BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River is still closed from Grave Creek to Mule Creek due to extreme fire conditions and public health and safety issues. The Recreation section of the Wild and Scenic Rogue River is currently open to rafters. However, the Grave Creek takeout is closed and law enforcement officials will not allow traffic into Grave Creek. Rafters floating on this section of the river should use the Argo, Almeda, or Rand river exits.
Yesterday, firefighters completed preparations around the Black Bar Lodge and the Zane Grey Cabin. Crews are remaining on site near these important historical resources on the Rogue River.
The Resources committed to the Big Windy Complex include 4 Hot Shot crews, 9 type II hand crews, 7 dozers, and 9 engines working on the fire. In addition to continuing work associated with the indirect line strategy, crews are scouting for north end contingency plans in the event the fire crosses the Rogue River. Operations personnel are creating structure protection plans for the east side of the fire. 768 personnel are now assigned to this fire.
The inversion lifted enough that a fixed-wing aircraft and a helicopter were able to be used for limited reconnaissance yesterday.
Closures in Place:
The Bear Camp Road 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 Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and the Curry County Sheriff’s Office are providing staffing at the closure points and signs are in place.
Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch is closed.
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. Cooperating agencies and partners include Oregon Department of Forestry, Medford District Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County, Curry County, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Jackson County.
Additional Fires on ODF-protected lands:
The lightning-caused Spence Fire burning in young timber and Ponderosa Pine 12 miles northwest of Klamath Falls was reported to Salem Coordination yesterday. The fire is 100 percent lined, and in mop-up.
The lightning-caused Murray Peak Fire burning in grass and sagebrush southwest of Baker is 25 acres and was reported to Salem Dispatch yesterday. Some rain was received last night, the fire is fully lined and is in patrol status.
A 10-acre lightning-caused fire burning in timber and brush on the Central Oregon District was reported Wednesday threatening 12 homes in the Squaw Creek Canyon Estates 6 miles northeast of Sisters. This fire is fully lined and is being monitored. Numerous small fires are still being reported.
FIRES BURNING ON OTHER LANDS
The lightning-caused Cascade Division Complex Fire is burning in Ponderosa pine, white fir & Douglas-fir 14 miles northwest of Sisters.
The Cascade Division Complex is made up of several lightning fires. The largest is the Green Ridge Fire at 80 acres and burning approximately 13 miles NW of Sisters in the Camp Sherman area. The fire is approximately ½ mile from private land.
Firefighters are working to construct hand-line where possible, while bulldozers are working to construct line on the east and west sides of the fire. A helicopter is making bucket drops on the fire. Lower Bridge Campground was closed for public safety so that a helicopter could draw water from the Metolius River. Pioneer Ford Campground was closed last night and campers were relocated.
For more information: 541-416-6811
The 4,836-acre, lightning-caused Whiskey Complex fire burning in timber six miles east of Tiller on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is 18 percent contained. The Complex consists of 4 fires, they are the Whisky Fire (2,250 acres), the Big Brother Fire (250 acres), the Buckeye Fire (550 acres) and the Smith Ridge Fire (30 acres). Continued dry weather is forecast. The incident is being managed by a unified command: Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team and the Douglas Forest Protective Association.
Community Meeting: 7 pm at the Tiller School, 27450 Tiller Trail Highway, Tiller, OR.
For more information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3562/
The lightning-caused Stemler Ridge Fire is burning in grass, brush and juniper 4 miles north of Juntura, OR. It is 3068 acres and 80 percent contained. Some lightning in the area and there is potential for loss of containment if wind picks up.
The 1,970-acre lightning-caused Labrador Fire (USFS) is burning in an area south and west of the Illinois River in inaccessible country approximately 30 miles southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Fire behavior yesterday: active spread due to wind and topography; fire continued to be moderated by smoke over the area.
Continued limited use of aircraft due to smoke over the fire, aviation resources being made available to other fires and will be re-engaged when smoke clears. Trail and road closures are in place.
For more information: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3563/
MORE FIRE NEWS
From news release issued today by Governor Kitzhaber’s Office:
Governor Kitzhaber to Receive Briefing on Wildfires from Incident Command Post in Southern Oregon
Tomorrow, August 3, Governor Kitzhaber will receive a briefing on wildfires burning in Southern Oregon, with a first-hand look at the Joint Incident Command post in Glendale for fires burning in Douglas and Josephine counties. The inter-agency briefing will include the latest information on efforts to contain the Douglas Complex Fires and the largest statewide wildfire response in more than a decade.
The event will be held at Glendale High School, and parking at the school is limited. Attendees should call Tommy Shroeder at 503-793-1993 for information and instructions before you arrive.
Saturday, August 3
Glendale High School Football Field
10598 Azalea-Glen Rd.
11:15AM-12:15PM Briefing at Joint Incident Command Post
12:15-12:25PM Media Availability
12:30-1:00PM Tour of Joint Incident Command Post
Lightning Activity around the State
Several hundred lightning strikes were recorded in Central and Eastern Oregon in the last 24 hours with some significant precipitation at the higher elevations.
Help Wanted to Determine Fire Causes
A series of wildfires that have occurred recently in the Blackwell Hill and Gold Hill areas of Jackson County are clearly human caused and likely intentional.
The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest Oregon District is asking the public’s help in identifying the people responsible for starting these fires.
Please call the Southwest Oregon District office at (541) 664-3328 if you have information that will help identify the people or the vehicle that started three fires on Blackwell Hill Rd around 5:00 p.m. on July 25. Another fire occurred on Monday, July 29, around 5:00 p.m. along Hwy. 234 near the Gold Hill Sports Park.
WILDFIRE SMOKE FORECAST
A number of places in southwest Oregon are showing only moderate air quality due to the fires. There is some improvement over yesterday, but air quality is still being impacted by smoke.
Today: An upper-level trough is still parked over western OR, with the drying trend continuing over southern and central OR. Low-level winds are generally light and trending towards northerly this afternoon over far southwestern OR. Surface temperatures are significantly warmer than yesterday. This will generally maintain elevated smoke levels for locations just south and SE of the fires. Areas west and north of the active fires will continue to see improved air quality. Shower development is expected to be confined to higher terrain well to the northeast of the fires.
Saturday: The upper trough will continue to be centered over the western OR coastline, with continued dry conditions and light winds at the low levels expected in the fire regions. The trough weakens over the weekend. Smoke impacts are expected in areas located just south and southeast of active fires.
Extended Outlook: The upper level trough persists over the Pacific Northwest coast Sunday and Monday, but weakens even further. Low-level winds will likely continue to be oriented N to NW. Areas to the south and SE of active fires will likely see significantly elevated levels of smoke particulates at times. Generally dry conditions are expected but some enhanced chance of isolated thunderstorms exists over higher elevations by late Monday.
Wildfire smoke dispersion depends on the stability of the atmosphere as well as wind direction and speed. A stable atmosphere holds smoke to the ground and an unstable atmosphere allows smoke to rise and dissipate. Smoke is typically mixed to higher altitudes during the afternoon, when daytime heating destabilizes the air mass. Conversely, smoke tends to settle near the ground and in drainages during the overnight and early morning hours.
Note: Acreage of fires is continually tracked, but entering this information from field personnel into our central database from the field has been delayed. Those personnel are currently heavily engaged in firefighting. Reporting of cumulative statistics will resume when the information is available.
News media may call the Fire Information Duty Officer pager, 503-370-0403, 24/7 for fire information. The duty officer will call back promptly. Media may also call the Oregon Department of Forestry headquarters office, 503-945-7200, weekdays during business hours.
OTHER FIRE INFORMATION
For information on wildfires on all jurisdictions in Oregon, go to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
ODF maintains a blog
ABOUT THIS UPDATE
This update focuses primarily on firefighting activity on Oregon Department of Forestry-protected lands involving fires 10 acres or larger in size or of other significance. It also reports on ODF’s actions as a partner in fighting major fires that start on lands protected by other agencies.
ODF is responsible for fire protection on private and state-owned forestland, and on a limited amount of other forestlands, including those owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in western Oregon. Because fires may cross ownerships, and because of the need to share firefighting resources, agencies work closely together.
Wildfire smoke forecasts
Wildfire smoke and air quality
Keep Oregon Green