(Update: Tolo Mtn. Fire 50% contained)
CRESCENT, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Windigo Fire that broke out Saturday near Windigo Pass on the Umpqua National Forest has grown quickly to 1,300 acres, officials said Sunday night as new thunderstorms sparked several new blazes around Central Oregon and hot temperatures lingered for another day.
Here's the Umpqua National Forest's Sunday night update:
Here is an update on the current fire situation on the Umpqua National Forest:
There are three confirmed fires:
Windigo Fire: Approximately 1,300 acres burning near Windigo Pass. A closure on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and Forest Service (FS) Road 60 is underway.
Fire 237: ½ acre located northwest of Lemolo 1 forebay
Several FS Roads, trails, and campgrounds are closed and an official Emergency Fire Closure is in progress:
FS Road 2610 – closed from Lemolo Dam to Calapooya Mt. (at the Forest boundary)
FS Road 60 – closed from the junction with Kelsey Valley Rd to Forest boundary (Deschutes NF has a closure on the east side)
Trail 1412 – Windigo Pass
Trail 1445 - Tenas Peak Trail
Pacific Crest Trail – Closed between State Hwy 138 (PCT mile 1,848) to State Hwy 58 (PCT mile 1,908).
A Type 2 incident management team has been ordered to manage these fires in addition to the Potter Fire on the Willamette National Forest. Additional firefighting resources are also on order. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the fire areas.
In Central Oregon, as initial-attack crews rushed to stop fires, the threat of more major blazes also prompted pre-positioning of two firefighting helicopters at Bend Airport, rather than the usual Redmond location.
By Sunday evening, firefighters had responded to three new lightning-sparked fires, two on the Deschutes National Forest and one on the Ochoco National Forest, with more reports of smoke, lightning or both near Lake Billy Chinook and in the Fly Creek area, northeast of Camp Sherman.
Fire lookouts were continually scanning the skies, while Oregon Department of Forestry cameras were set at strategic high points around Central Oregon to spot new starts quickly.
In advance of the latest round of storms, two "heavy" Skycrane helicopters were positioned at Bend Airport, Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern confirmed Sunday.
Stormy weather also tested lines again Sunday on the 41-acre Tolo Mountain Fire on the Crescent Ranger District, which reached 50% containment.
Four skidgines are supplying water to the firefighters cooling hot spots up to 100 feet inside containment lines of the main fire, as well as several spot fires, officials said. That work will continue until the entire fire perimeter and all spot fires are cold to the touch.
Meanwhile, a new fire about five miles north-northwest near Windigo Pass on the Umpqua National Forest quickly grew to 1,300 acres, prompting closure of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Windigo Fire was burning in timber off Forest Service Road 60 on the Douglas-Klamath county line, with ground and air firefighting resources being called in.
More new fires are emerging on the Willamette National Forest as well, officials said Sunday.
The largest new start was reported around 9 a.m. Sunday morning near Potter Mountain on the Middle Fork Ranger District, along the border of the Umpqua National Forest. It was initially reported to be 60 acres, with spotting, torching and flanking. Initial fire crews were working to reach the blaze.
The weekend fires have prompted several closures on the Crescent Ranger District, as seen in this graphic:
Here's Sunday morning's update on the Tolo Mountain Fire:
Tolo Mountain Fire Update – July 31, 9:30 a.m.
High temperatures and gusty winds tested firelines on the Tolo Mountain Fire burning on the Deschutes National Forest yesterday but the fire remains 41 acres and is now 20% contained.
Crews were able to hold firelines in breezy afternoon conditions yesterday and continued to secure the perimeter and achieve some containment. Firefighters disengaged from operations for their safety when a lightning storm passed through the area.
There’s a chance of afternoon thunderstorms over and around the fire area again today. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for abundant lightning north and northeast of the fire area. Fire managers are prepared for the potential that gusty winds associated with those thunderstorms might impact firefighting operations on the Tolo Mountain Fire today and tomorrow.
Firefighters will continue to lay hoses to plumb the entire perimeter and use water to mop up hot spots within 100 feet of the edge. This fire has spotted multiple times, so firefighters will also ensure all spot fires are mopped up and will continue to search for spot fires outside of the perimeter. A skidgeon will also be working to secure spot fires in the more remote areas of the fire. A heavy helicopter remains assigned to the fire and is available to assist firefighting efforts as needed.
The Tolo Mountain Fire, approximately three miles north of Cappy Mountain on the Crescent Ranger District, was reported last Wednesday at 5:45 p.m. and is burning in heavy timber with a mix of standing dead and downed wood.
Earlier Tolo Mountain Fire info:
A second interagency hotshot crew and a local 20-person Type 2 hand crew arrived Saturday to help fight the lightning-sparked Tolo Mountain Fire.
They were joining several crews, engines, 10 smokejumpers and a local Type 3 Incident Management Team that assumed command of the fire Saturday around 6 p.m., officials said in Saturday morning's update -- the first to report that the cause of the blaze was determined to be lightning.
Several Large Air Tankers (LATs) and two Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT planes) were dispatched to respond to the fire Friday afternoon when activity increased and two spot fires escaped preliminary containment lines.
Firefighters were able to construct fireline around the approximately five-acre spot fire, officials said, and that line held through the night. Air tankers dropped retardant on a second spot to the east of the five-acre spot, and crews were building containment lines around it Saturday.
As the region bakes in a heat wave, Redmond Airport broke a record for the fifth straight day Saturday, hitting 108 degrees, snapping the old July 30 mark of 104 set two years ago.
The National Weather Service in Pendleton issued a red flag warning Saturday afternoon for "abundant lightning" over much of the region, in effect until 11 p.m. Saturday, and another for 2 p.m. Sunday to 11 p.m. Monday.
The Tolo Mountain Fire, about three miles north of Cappy Mountain on the Crescent Ranger District, is burning in heavy timber, with a mix of standing dead and downed wood.
The fire was first reported about six miles west of the Two Rivers subdivision and north of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness Area.
Ten smokejumpers initially responded to the fire Thursday morning and were joined by the Prineville Interagency Hotshots, two engine crews, a five-person hand crew and a bulldozer. Air tankers also supported the suppression efforts, along with a heavy helicopter using Crescent Lake as a water dip site.
Active fire behavior was reported Thursday afternoon, along with "group torching" of trees in heavy timber amid an intense heat wave.
Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern said Thursday afternoon the fire was “heading into incredibly receptive fuels,” so a large air attack was launched to “help slow that fire and give the very well qualified folks on the ground an opportunity to establish an anchor point and get a line around it.”
“We are at a high risk for significant wildfire potential now, due to the significant drought and critically low fuel moisture,” she noted.