Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
3040 Biddle Rd.
Medford, OR 97504
Curry County, OR—Firefighters are making significant progress locating access points outside the perimeter of the roughly 65-acre Chetco Bar Fire. The fire burning six miles west of Pearsoll Peak in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was first reported on July 12, 2017. Our values at risk are minimal at this time. The nearest structure is approximately six miles west of the fire, a privately-owned ranch.
Due to the extremely difficult and dangerous terrain, typical of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, firefighters are still not able to safely engage the fire. Therefore, the past 24-hours have been focused on two primary objectives: using reconnaissance missions to locate a variety of access points and building steadfast operational and contingency plans for the fire once we can safely engage.
From the initial report of the Chetco Bar Fire, access has been an issue. Historically, the Kalmiopsis Wilderness is associated with several large fires such as Collier Butte, Silver, Labrador, Buckskin, and the most commonly known, 2002 Biscuit Fire. It is important to take note that the Chetco Bar Fire’s conditions are not identical to the Biscuit Fire. This means the types of fuels are not homogenous, the fuel load is not as thick, this is not a drought year and the fire is not being wind-driven. The result from the previous fire scars is ground covered with dense brush, tall-standing snags and islands of unburned forest. The mixed terrain patterns is extremely risky for firefighters. Scouting trails and topography that our crews can use to avoid these diverse hazards is key. Along the east side of the fire, a few areas have been located as potential opportunities to safely access the fire. The northwest perimeter is facing the scar of the Collier Butte Fire which can act as a buffer for any potential fire spread. The southwest portion of the fire along the Chetco River will be our next area of focus. We hope to identify natural features and ridgelines that firefighters can use to hold the fire in place. The fire is still burning in low to moderate intensity causing the rate of spread to be minimal.
In addition, fire personnel are strengthening their contingency and operational plans. Monitoring the fire activity via recon aircraft has been efficient for the past several days. Moving forward, we are turning to camera technology to assist with our aerial fire observation and analysis. In order to do so, we must first find those vantage points that would benefit us most.
This evening, we will be performing another recon flight to observe fire activity and continue locating points of entry. For additional information and photos, please visit our Facebook page, U.S. Forest Service- Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, or @R6RRSNF.