(Update: Saturday morning update, increased acreage; other fire updates)
LAKEVIEW, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Nearly 700 firefighters called to battle the nearly 86,000-acre Cougar Peak Fire northwest of Lakeview welcomed the first significant rainfall in many weeks on Friday, but with no containment yet, the fight is far from over.
At the fire camp Saturday morning, firefighters and fire officials held a moment of silence on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks to honor the firefighters, law enforcement, EMS professionals and many others who lost their lives on that day of infamy.
Here's Saturday morning's update on the Cougar Peak Fire, as well as the Middle Fork Complex and Bull Complex fires still burning in Oregon:
Cougar Peak Fire Update
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.
General Updates: The Cougar Peak Fire's southern edge is approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview.
After yesterday’s significant rainfall, fire activity was relatively quiet. Night shift crews and heavy equipment completed contingency lines in the southwest portion of the fire to protect private timber lands. Today, firefighters are scouting and prepping line, continuing north up the west side of the fire in anticipation of drying fuels for burn operations in the area. On the north portion, crews are tying in light fuels in the valley to minimize impacts, and cold trailing. On the east flank, dozers and crews are constructing direct line to protect additional private timber land. Moving south on the east flank, direct line is also being constructed to tie into previously constructed line in the south to secure the fire’s edge. Firefighters will be looking at opportunities for indirect burning operations in the next few days while weather conditions are favorable to do so. There was minimal fire growth reported yesterday and the increase is likely from burning that happened prior to the rain.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office currently has six task forces working during the day and four task forces working at night. Key focuses for firefighters today will be mopping up near structures on the eastern and northeastern flanks of the fire. Crews will also be working today to assess homes on the west side of the fire.
Another key focus for structural firefighters will be the protection of critical infrastructure on Round Mountain. The mountain is home to FFA communication, internet and cellular tower services that are vital to the area.
Behavior: Fine fuel moistures today will be in the 6-8% range. Low fire behavior is expected through all fuel types, with creeping surface fire and single or small group torching under protected canopies in timber. Afternoon spread will be possible in light fuels by late afternoon.
Cause: Under Investigation
Fire Information: (541) 900-5788 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm)
Facebook: “Cougar Peak Fire 2021”
Air Quality: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com
Weather: Today will have a light haze and a few afternoon clouds. Temperatures in the valleys will be 71-76 degrees, with a relative humidity of 19-23%. Winds will be light and variable in the morning, becoming north-northwest in the afternoon at 5-8 mph with gusts less than 15 mph.
In some years, the amount of rain we have received at this time of year could be considered a season ending event. This season, however, is not a typical season. This area is in its second consecutive year of drought and entered this fire season in the highest classification of drought measure possible. Likewise, fuel moistures have been at or near record lows for most of the year. Just as yesterday’s rains will not fill our empty reservoirs, it will also not automatically bring an end to this fire season.
Resources-694: 1 - type 1 hand crew, 3 - type 2 IA hand crews, 11 - type 2 hand crews, 2 - camp crews, 3 - heavy lift helicopters, 2 - medium lift helicopters, 1 - light lift helicopter, 64 - engines, 10 - dozers, 19 - water tenders, and 2 - masticators.
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:
See the website and Facebook for a full description of the evacuation levels. Link is below.
Red Cross Evacuation Shelter: The Lakeview shelter and planned emergency shelter in LaPine will both be on standby starting Saturday. If the need arises, staff are available to reopen the shelter.
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.
An average of 85% of fires in the Pacific Northwest are started by humans. Please continue to do your part and be fire aware, know fire restrictions in areas you are visiting and practice safe summer outings! #OnlyYouCanPreventWildfires
Middle Fork Complex Update for Saturday, Sept 11
Northwest Incident Management Team 6
Shawn Sheldon, Incident Commander
Phone: 425-324-1267 (8am – 8pm)
Origin/Location: 9 miles north of Oakridge, OR
Date/Time Detected: July 29, 2021, 2:00 p.m.
Number of Personnel: 696
Westfir, OR – Higher humidities and as much as .4 inches of rain fell across the fire area with most of the rain on the eastern side and very little on the western side. General fire behavior was moderate due to the cool moist weather conditions. This fire becomes active when relative humidity is below 35%. When wind, slope and terrain align, the fire activity will escalate. Firefighters will be working over the next few shifts to improve indirect lines and scout for opportunities to move indirect lines closer to the main body of the fire. Work on primary and contingency lines around the southwest, east and northeast sides of the fire continued. Smoke conditions moderated significantly and we can expect this trend to continue for the next few days. No burning operations were undertaken due to the rain and increased humidity which would have made the outcome less than desirable. It is not anticipated that firing operations will take place in the next 24 hours.
The spot fires on the south facing slopes in Nehi Creek, Purdue Creek towards Christy Creek, and south toward Evangiline Creek will respond to lower humidity and solar heating.
Weather: A weak area of high pressure will briefly set up across the area on Saturday, with mostly sunny skies, and temperatures returning to near-normal values for this time of year. Expect highs in the mid 60s to mid 70s over the next few days. After another night of excellent relative humidity recovery, relative humidity values will fall into the 35 to 45 percent range on Saturday.
Smoke: We should see another day of “Good” air quality and minimal smoke across most of the outlook area. The smoke that had settled into Bend and La Pine is slowly clearing out and today should be much improved, but still a bit hazy.
Safety: Forest closures are still in effect so, “Know before you go”. Firefighters, recreationists and hunters are sharing the same roads so be aware of increased traffic and drive accordingly.
Closures: There are numerous road closures in effect, including Road 19, Road 1910 going west towards 1802 and others in the Middle Fork Complex area. For more information, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices.
Bull Complex Factsheet - September 11, 2021
Cause: Lightning Size: 19,349 acres Containment: 9 percent Personnel: 566
Incident Command: Type 2 Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 4, Rick Connell, Incident Commander
Current Status: Yesterday, a small amount of rain fell over the fire area with 0.10” measured on the west side to 0.30” measured on the east side. The cloudy and damp conditions kept fire activity subdued throughout the day. The overnight infrared flight could not fly due to cloud cover and weather so there is no change in reported fire size again today. The fire did continue to creep and smolder as it moved in the Upper Dickey Creek, Mother Lode Creek, and Battle drainages. The fire slowly backed downslope in the Elk Lake Creek and East Humbug Creek drainages. The low clouds prevented helicopter use. Additional containment line was added on both the existing north and south containment lines. Fire crews worked to prepare road systems and hand lines north and northwest of the fire area to be primary or contingency lines as part of the long-term fire suppression strategy. Preparation work is being done along an estimated 40 miles of forest roads. On the southwest side a hand line was constructed to connect the road system to the Beachie Creek Fire scar to be used as an anchor point. Along the southeast side firefighters patrolled the line. Extensive mop up work was done along Forest Road 6350 on the east side of the fire as crews work to secure that edge to keep the fire within containment line. The two spot fires east of the line were monitored and remain secured.
Planned Actions: Under moderated weather conditions fire activity is expected to be less active but still expected to creep, smolder, and have occasional group tree torching because fuel conditions remain extremely dry. The fire will continue to move in the Upper Dickey Creek, Mother Lode Creek, Pansey Creek, and Battle Creek drainages and back downslope in the East Humbug Creek drainage. Helicopters remain on standby to be used for water bucket drops if cloud and smoke conditions improve. Existing containment lines will be monitored as firefighters watch for any trees or pockets of heat that could threaten the lines. Mop up work and hazard tree removal will be done along Forest Road 6350 to secure the fire line. On the south side firefighters will patrol and monitor existing line and work on a hand line to the southwest. Crews and equipment will be used to prepare lines using several road systems northwest and north of the fire area.
Weather: The weather today is expected to get warmer and drier. Temperatures will be 67-74 degrees, minimum humidity levels from 38% to 48%, and winds out of the west/northwest at 5-10 mph with gusts up to 15 mph.
Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR): There is a TFR in place for air space over the Bull Complex (FDC 1-2073) to reduce impacts to fire aviation operations. Fire aviation response is halted or delayed if an unauthorized aircraft enters the TFR. Temporary flight restrictions also apply to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones. If you fly, we can’t!
Evacuations: The Marion County Sheriff has issued a Level 1 “Be Ready” evacuation advisory only for Breitenbush Hot Springs. Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, monitor emergency services websites and local media, and make an action plan should the evacuation level rise. The advisory can be viewed at: https://www.flashalert.net/id/MarionSheriff?alert=1.
Closures: For the safety of wildland firefighters and the public, the National Forests have enacted area closures that prevent the public from being upon National Forest System lands in the vicinity of the Bull Complex Fire. All Forest lands that are south and west of Forest Road 46, and east of the Riverside Fire perimeter are closed. The entire length of Forest Road 46 is closed. Lands within the 2020 Lionshead and Beachie Creek Fire areas are also closed. See the closure orders and maps at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/7773/.
Air Quality: For information on air quality, visit https://fire.airnow.gov/ or https://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/.
Primary and Cooperating Agencies: U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Bureau of Land Management, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.