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Welcome rain slows 83,000-acre fire NW of Lakeview; likely human caused, OSP sets up tip line

Crews on the scene of the Cougar Peak Fire northwest of Lakeview
U.S. Forest Service
Crews on the scene of the Cougar Peak Fire northwest of Lakeview

(Update: Friday morning update; OSP release)

LAKEVIEW, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Cougar Peak Fire about 15 miles northwest of Lakeview kept growing quickly Thursday until wetting rains slowed its progress early Friday -- after the estimated size nearly tripled, to more than 83,,000 acres. Authorities are seeking tip on this and other apparently human-caused wildfires in Lake County.

Here's Friday morning's update:

Cougar Peak Fire Update

Northwest Incident Management Team 8, Incident Commander, Kevin Stock

Oregon State Fire Marshal Incident Management Blue Team, Incident Commander, Scott Magers

September 10, 2021 – Morning

Virtual Community Meeting this evening at 5:00 – Facebook Live

Northwest Incident Management Team 8, Incident Commander Kevin Stock, in unified command with Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) Incident Management Blue Team, Scott Magers Incident Commander, is managing the Cougar Peak Fire. The incident command post is located at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeview. The Conflagration Act has been invoked by Governor Brown which allows multi-agency structure protection resources to be mobilized from throughout the state to protect homes, businesses and critical infrastructure threatened by the Cougar Peak Fire.

General Updates: The Cougar Peak Fire is burning approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview. After significant fire activity yesterday along the northeast perimeter, the wetting rains over the fire early this morning considerably moderated fire behavior. Today will be a favorable day for firefighters, as the rain has cooled the fire’s edge and will allow for more direct operations along the perimeter. An infrared reconnaissance flight last night provided a more accurate fire acreage.

Yesterday began with extreme fire behavior, including a pyro-cumulonimbus development pushing out 10-11 miles along the northern boundary of the fire. Firefighters focused efforts to keep ahead of the fire to provide structure and property protection. Contingency lines were constructed at the northeast side to provide structure protection to Valley Falls. At dark, when the winds dropped, the fire reached the flats just south of the Chewaucan Marsh and checked the forward movement. There was very little lateral growth on the east and west flanks of the fire due to the growth being wind-driven. Dozer line work continues on the southern edge in efforts to create an anchor point for resources.

Today, crews will focus work on eastern flank of the fire. The precipitation received will allow dozers and handcrews to use a direct tactic and build containment line next to the fire’s edge.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s mobilized additional incident management staff and four more taskforces yesterday, bringing the total of structural protection taskforces to 10.

Structural firefighters will capitalize on morning precipitation to access areas of the fire that were previously inaccessible due to active fire behavior. Focuses for today will be evaluating and protecting structures and engaging directly with fire lines that threatened homes.

Behavior: Anticipated fire spread will be minimal today, due to the moderate weather. As the temperatures ease back into seasonal norms, fire behavior will likely increase over the weekend.

Acreage: 83,339 (estimated)

Containment: 0%

Cause: Under Investigation

Fire Information: (541) 900-5788 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm)

E-mail:  2021.cougarpeak@firenet.gov

Information Websites:

Facebook: “Cougar Peak Fire 2021”

Inciweb:  https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7835/

Air Quality: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com

Weather: The Red Flag Warning remains in effect through 5 p.m. today, for strong, gusty winds with low relative humidity and abundant lightning on dry fuels. Later today, the focus for showers and thunderstorms shifts northeast with dry conditions returning tonight and lasting into next week. The maximum temperature forecasted for today will be in the upper 60s. Southwest winds 3-6 mph with gusts up to 10 mph will become westerly 4-7 mph with gusts up to 12 mph in the afternoon. Erratic and gusty winds up to 20 mph can be expected near thunderstorms.

Resources-412: 1 - type 1 hand crew, 2 - type 2 IA hand crews, 3 - type 2 hand crews, 2 - heavy lift helicopters, 1 - light lift helicopter, 36 engines, 3 dozers, 11 water tenders, and 1 masticator

Evacuations: Multiple Evacuation Levels have been issued by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. See this link for entering a specific address in the upper right corner in this interactive map:
https://geo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=f8a0d8814a67445a9e6bf3485f4fd24f

See the website and Facebook for a full description of the evacuation levels. Link is below.

https://www.lakecountyor.org/index.php

https://www.facebook.com/Lake-County-Oregon-104435824529906

Temporary Flight Restrictions: A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place over the Cougar Peak Fire. Please consult the Notice to Airman for specifics.

Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Whenever a drone is spotted near the fire, all aircraft are grounded until we can be sure the drone is clear of the area. For more information, visit http://knowbeforeyoufly.org.

Despite the recent rain received, extremely dry fuel conditions and seasonal winds can make even a small spark rapidly grow into a large wildlife.  These fires can be very destructive. 

For the latest restrictions and regulations, including ODF and federal agencies, visit https://scofmp.org/restrictions.shtml.  Make sure toKnow Before You Go.


Fire investigators seek information on human caused wildfires-Lake County
Oregon State Police - 09/10/21 8:51 AM

Fire investigators in Lake County are seeking information on wildfire starts in the area.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), Oregon State Police (OSP), U.S. Forest Service and Lake County Sheriff’s Office are investigating wildfire causes, including the Cougar Peak Fire.

This fire season has seen an increase in human-caused fire starts. To help with the investigations, the OSP has a phone line for area residents and visitors to call in with information that could help.

If you have information regarding a human-caused wildfire in Lake County, please call 1-800-442-0776 or OSP and reference Trooper Mike Hansen and OSP Case Number SP21-257103.

KTVZ news sources

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