Over the weekend several existing fires in Oregon grew, prompting ODF to increase its engagement. The Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County has now become the largest wildfire in Oregon at more than 91,000 acres as mapped by infrared flight last night. The fire has grown a third larger since yesterday morning. Strong north winds have been pushing the fire south, driving it onto land protected by the Coos Forest Protective Association (CFPA).
The fire is burning in timber and brush. It has been exhibiting extreme behavior with long-range spotting, prompting Level 3 evacuations and closure of roads and trails. The Red Cross has set up a shelter for evacuees at Riley Creek Elementary School in Gold Beach. There is a community meeting planned for 6 p.m. today at Azalea Middle School in Brookings. While Highway 101 remains open, motorists are requested to avoid traveling the section north of the Brookings area if possible. Significant smoke is affecting air quality this weekend in Brookings. For the latest information on the Chetco Bar Fire, including evacuation details, the public should call 2-1-1.
Gov. Brown yesterday invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to allow for the mobilization of additional resources. One resource being redeployed today to the Chetco Bar Fire are two Oregon Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopters. The helicopters had been engaged on the Whitewater Fire. ODF has also sent two strike teams of engines to help.
A Unified Command has been set up. ODF has sent personnel, including Deputy State Forester Nancy Hirsch, to assist.
The fire was started by lightning July 12 on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
ODF is fully engaged on wildfires
ODF is fully engaged on wildfires across the state, conducting those operations safely, efficiently and effectively. As was done in the busy wildfire years of 2013-15, to sustain our operations ODF has again mobilized resources from the national system and our Canadian partners.
ODF is integrated with Oregon's Office of Emergency Management to manage demands resulting from the solar eclipse. The influx of visitors coincides with the state's peak fire season.
New wildfires on ODF-protected land
Lack of lightning helped make for few new fire starts statewide as of this morning. So far this summer, ODF's emphasis on putting out fires as early as possible on lands we protect has helped keep acres burned on those lands far below the 10-year average for this date of 48 acres per fire. This year's average so far is just above five acres per fire.
Updates on other existing Oregon wildfires
Milli Fire - Deschutes National Forest
This fire just outside Sisters is reported this morning as 20 percent contained. The main part of the fire is moving into the Three Sisters Wilderness to the west and south. Information posted by the incident shows it at 10,496 acres.
Protecting structures remains a high priority. Level Three evacuation orders remain for the Edgington and Crossroads subdivisions and isolated structures south of Sisters. The Tollgate subdivision is under a Level One evacuation notice. Closures of roads and recreation areas remain in place.
Unified Command has been established with the Oregon State Fire Marshall's Green team. More than 640 personnel are reported engaged in fighting the fire. ODF, Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests, Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office, and Oregon Department of Transportation are cooperating to manage the fire.
Falcon Complex -
This group of fires burning in timber roughly 17 miles north of Prospect in southern Oregon is now reported at 2,500 acres and still at 17 percent containment. Structures and private land are threatened.
High Cascades Complex - in and around Crater Lake National Park
Over a hundred Oregon National Guard members are still assisting this week at this group of fires west and south of Crater Lake National Park. The fires are reported at 11,246 acres and 68 percent contained. Road, trail and area closures are in place.
Jones Fire - Willamette National Forest
Continued growth on this lightning-cased fire, which is now sized at 5,354 acres. It is reported as 10 percent contained. Active fire behavior continues, with spotting and short crown runs. Structures and commercial timber are threatened. There have been area closures and campground evacuations. The fire is east of Springfield and about 10 mile northeast of the town of Lowell.
Miller Complex - Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
This group of fires has grown by about 2,500 acres to 7,874 acres this morning. Burning in timber, this is an increase of 634 acres. The Complex is burning in timber southwest Jackson County near the California border.
Nena Springs - Warm Springs reservation
This fire is still reported at 68,135 acres. It is reported as 60 percent contained. The fire is now believed to have been human caused.
North Pelican - Fremont-Winema National Forest
Located about 28 miles northwest of Klamath Falls, this lightning-caused fire has been burning since Aug. 10. Reported at 1,100 acres, the fire is burning in timber. It is also reported to be threatening structurs.
Staley Fire - Willamette National Forest
This fire 23 miles south of Oakridge is reported to have grown to 831 acres. It is burning just a few miles from ODF-protected land. ODF is engaging with the Incident Management Team managing the fire.
Umpqua North Complext - Umpqua National Forest
This fire is now reported at 10,793 acres. The largest fire within the complex is the Happy Dog Fire at 5,208 acres. ODF and the Douglas Forest Protective Association are part of a Unified Command formed in response to the fire. Campground and area closures are in effect and evacuations are in place. The immediate focus is on structure protection and securing firelines around developed areas.
Whitewater Fire - Willamette National Forest / ODF North Cascade District
This fire has grown by 820 acres and is now sized at 8,419 acres. Burnout operations have been conducted to remove vegetation between this fire and control lines, helping keep the fire from spreading into private forestland. Two Oregon Army National Guard CH-47 Chinook helicopters are being redeployed from this fire to help with the Chetco Bar Fire in southwest Oregon.
Fire conditions forecast
Sunny skies this morning made for perfect eclipse viewing in much of Oregon inland from the coast. That same dry, sunny weather, however, has dried out fuels, making them ignite easily.
Lightning is anticipated for south-central Oregon Tuesday, increasing the risk of new fire starts. Lightning is expected to spread more widely to central and eastern Oregon on Wednesday. Fire restrictions and closures remain in effect. To find those for ODF-protected lands, go to http://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Fire/Pages/Restrictions.aspx