Whitewater Fire News Release

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Whitewater Fire News Release

Update Whitewater Fires Sept. 21, 2017

Incident: Whitewater Fire Wildfire
Released: 9/21/2017

Fire Information Line: 541-719-8371
Location: Willamette National Forest willamettewildfires2017@gmail.com
Willamette National Forest Closures: 541-225-6350Inciweb Websites: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices; https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5420;https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5565 Size: 14,416 acres (total for reported fires)
Containment: 47% Resources: 414 personnel (total for reported fires)
Yesterday, both the French Fire and the Potato Hill Fire were turned back over to their forest districts. The evacuation levels for Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes remains at a Level 1 and Forest Service Road 46 was reopened for all through traffic. As the weather begins to improve, the public may see smoke coming from the fire areas. Crews expect to see smoke to be visible at least into the month of October.

As the rains continue throughout the day, crews will work on suppression repair as long as it is safe to do so. Suppression repair work includes removing large amounts of timber slash from the area, chipping branches, adding water bars into roadways and hillsides to help redirect water flow to protect hillsides from erosion and placing logs and other debris strategically to slow runoff water. Crews will also continue to collect equipment and hose form the fire line as long as it is safe to do so.
Safety is the top priority for firefighters and the public. While inclement weather continues, driving hazards still exist for the public and firefighters. Please drive cautiously and watch out for debris on the roadways. Even though we have received a significant amount of rain, the ground is not absorbing moisture very well and less than a half inch down the dirt is bone dry. We also asked that hunters be extra cautious of crews working in the area. During rainy conditions, firefighters may not be easily seen by hunters.
Detroit Ranger District – visit Whitewater Fire on Inciweb for updates on the following fires.The strategy for managing this fire is focused on protecting the communities of Breitenbush and/ Devil Creek, the high voltage power lines critical to the northwest power grid, private timberlands to the west, with the highest priority being firefighter and public safety.
Whitewater Fire: 11,493 acres, 64% contained. Crews were able to safely work on the perimeter of the Whitewater Fire. Firefighters worked on suppression repair by clearing the roadways and ditches with debris. Chipping continues as part of the repair process. All equipment from the Cheat Creek drainage will be removed.
Little Devil Fire: 2,125 acres, 17% contained. Although Breitenbush Hot Springs and communities of Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes remain at a Level 1 evacuation, owners have begun returning to their properties. Crews will continue repair work on turnouts and improvements essential for repair of the primary lines.
Scorpion Fire: 695 acres, 16% contained. The Scorpion Fire continues to hold between the east and west flanks, above Highway 46 and away from the power lines. As the weather improves, fire crews will complete repair work on all non-primary containment lines and on portions of the fire that are secure.
French Fire: 2 acres, 95% contained. The French Fire was turned back over to the forest district, effective yesterday at noon.
The Wilderness Fires including Claggett Lake, Slideout and Section Line Fires. The Wilderness Fires, located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area, have stayed in check due to wet weather conditions. However, due to the weather, air operations has been unable to fly over the fire to check recent conditions. Claggett Lake Fire: 100 acres, 0% contained. Slideout Fire: ½ acres, 0% contained. Section Line Fire: .1 acres, 0% contained.
McKenzie River Ranger District –visit Potato Hill on Inciweb for updates.Potato Hill: 199 acres, 100% contained. The Potato Hill Fire was turned back over to the forest district, effective yesterday at noon.
Air Quality: Air quality reported from Air Now http://www.airnow.gov/ .
Weather: Rains are expected to continue today and start to decrease as the day progresses. Temperatures are expected to increase and relative humidity will likely decrease. With the increased temperatures, accumulated snow will likely melt off.
Fire Behavior: Minimal fire spread is expected due to the heavy rain and snow. Fire activity will be limited to smoldering in the needle litter and duff.
Resources: 9 crews, 3 camp crew, 9 engines, 1 medium, helicopter, 1 light helicopter, 1 fixed wing air attack, 15 dozers, 1 skidgens, 6 water tenders and 3 ambulances. Total personnel is 414. Resources continue to be shared among nearby fires.
Air Operations: The low cloud ceiling and breezy conditions have impacted air operations temporarily suspending their abilities to fly. When the weather starts to clear up and it is safe for crews to fly, the majority of air operations will likely focus on equipment retrieval.
A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is in place over the fire area restricting aerial public access. Please check the NOTAMs prior to flying. The public is reminded that all air operations are grounded any time a drone is sighted within the TFR, which inhibits their ability to do critical fire suppression efforts. Flying within the TFR is prohibited and against the law.
Evacuation Levels: Forest Service Road 46 is now open to all through traffic. Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes remain at a Level 1 evacuation level. For additional information, contact the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, (503) 588-5108, or visit the ‘Alerts and Emergency’ tab on http://www.co.marion.or.us/alerts.
Highway Closures: No road closures reported. Highway 46 was reopened yesterday.
Forest Closures: For further information, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices.

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