Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
3040 Biddle Rd.
Medford, OR 97504
Join us for a Community Fire Briefing tonight at 7 p.m. in Cave Junction at the Illinois Valley High School.
Weather and Fire Behavior: There is potential for very active fire behavior again today. With embers carrying up to three tenths of a mile, significant perimeter growth is possible. The Excessive Heat Warning continues through midday Monday. A Red Flag Warning will be in effect tonight through Monday morning for gusty winds, low relative humidity, and high to very high fire danger all of which are likely to contribute to significant spread of new and existing fires. From the northwestern edge of the fire, firefighters observed temperatures over 100 degrees for more than six hours Saturday afternoon.
Yesterday: With variable and weak winds aloft, smoke dispersion was poor and smoke settled into Brookings and other low areas. While the smoke moderated fire behavior in some areas, when it cleared, activity picked up and a column of smoke rose to 12,000 feet on the east side of the fire.
West of Cave Junction, crews re-opened and cleared brush from firelines used during the Biscuit Fire. On the north, northwest, and southern perimeter, firefighters continued to connect dozer lines with road systems, establishing direct containment lines. Crews performed structural assessments and pulled burnable material away from structures in the Illinois River Valley and Agness areas. A single helicopter flew yesterday, but air resource use was severely limited by smoke.
Today: Finding and extinguishing hot spots along the containment line on portions of the west and northwest side of the fire is an ongoing effort. On the eastern flank, firefighters will re-open old dozer lines southwest of Cave Junction and engine crews will prepare structures by pulling back burnable material and installing sprinkler systems. Firefighters are planning to construct contingency fireline to the south into California. Aircraft utilization is expected to be minimal as pilots are hampered by dense smoke and limited visibility. Oregon State Fire Marshal structural task forces are patrolling and assessing structural properties in the level 2 and 3 evacuation areas.
On the southwest flank of the fire, firefighters continue to check (or slow) southerly fire spread into the Emily creek area. Mop-up is ongoing on the western perimeter while crews continue line construction and potentially some burnout operations to secure Pistol River firelines. Extreme to Hazardous smoke impacts will continue to immerse the communities downwind of the Chetco Bar fire on all sides. Reduced visibility along highways 101, 199, and other local roadways should be expected. Coastal areas such as Gold Beach and Brookings, and possibly Agness, are expected to see some improvement in smoke conditions late in the day as West to Northwest winds begin to drift smoke Southeasterly. Inland communities such as Cave Junction and Grants Pass that sit down valley are expected to remain in heavy smoke through tomorrow.
Evacuations: The level 3 evacuation was decreased to a level 2 for the Mountain Drive area off the north bank of the Chetco. A level 1 “be prepared” evacuation was put in place today for the Oak Flats area in Josephine County.
Closures: Highway 101 remains open, as well as local restaurants, businesses, and lodging establishments in Brookings and Harbor. Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place: http://bit.ly/2erUN5B.
Note: There was no infrared flight last night. Data from these flights is used in verifying fire perimeter and calculating acres burned. Therefore, an update to the fire size is unavailable today.