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Potato Hill Fire

Unit Information

Willamette National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
Springfield, OR 97477

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Potato Hill Update Sept. 16, 2017

Potato Hill Fire Wildfire
News – 9/16/2017

Whitewater Fire - including Little Devil, Scorpion, Clagett Lake, Slideout, French and Potato Hill Fires

September 16, 2017 Daily Update

Fire Information Line: 541-719-8371,

Location: Willamette National Forest

Willamette National Forest Closures: 541-225-6350,

Size: 14,005 acres (total for reported fires) Containment: 35%

Resources Assigned: 341 personnel (total for reported fires)

Suppression activities continue on the Little Devil, Whitewater and Scorpion Fires. Fire managers are utilizing crews, hose lays and heavy equipment to maintain containment lines. Evacuation levels remain in place for the Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes. Mop-up operations, patrolling and monitoring activities continue on the smaller fires which include Potato, French, Clagett, Slideout and Fire #296.

McKenzie River Ranger District

Potato Hill: 199 acres. 95% contained. This fire is nearing completion. Firefighters continue to patrol and mop-up and grid the fire as needed to ensure full containment. The public is asked to drive defensively and slow down through the area as fire crews continue work. Smoke can still be seen within the perimeter of the fire. This is expected until a season ending event such as a large amount of rain or ground covering snow in the area.

Detroit Ranger District

The overall strategy is directed toward protecting Values at Risk, which includes the communities of Breitenbush and Devil Creek, the high voltage power lines critical to Portland, private timberlands to the west, with the highest priority being firefighter and public safety.

Whitewater Fire: 11,046 acres, 33% contained. The fire continues to make short, upslope runs with some torching. Smoke conditions yesterday were not conducive to helicopter bucket work on portions of the fire. Based on conditions, fire managers are evaluating the use of retardant on the west flank of the fire perimeter to protect private lands. Firefighters continue mopping up and securing lines along the southwest flank and will pull hose and other equipment on the southern perimeter where repair work has been completed.

Little Devil Fire: 1,885 acres, 5% contained. Most of the recent growth on the Little Devil Fire is along the northwest perimeter where the fire continues to slowly back down into the draw and riparian area, and is holding. Crews continue prepping contingency lines along the road west of the fire. The Marion County Sheriff's Office, in coordination with fire managers, raised the evacuation level from Level 2 (Set) to Level 3 (Go) for the areas of Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes due to the proximity of the fire. Level 3 means “Go” as danger to your area is imminent. For the most up-to-date information on Marion County evacuations, go to ‘Alerts and Emergency’ tab on

Scorpion Fire: 655 acres, 5% contained. Fire growth was small on the northern end of the Scorpion Fire. Resources continue to work securing containment lines and prepping contingency lines to the north. The fire has been kept between the established containment lines on the west and east flanks and above Highway 46 away from the power lines.

French Fire: 2 acres. 95% contained. This fire is in patrol status and is expected to be turned back to the local agency once the repair work has been completed. Firefighters are working closely with Resource Advisors to identify suppression repair work necessary for erosion control.

Clagett Lake Fire: 77 acres. 0% contained. Located near Clagett Lake in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. There is very little smoke visible from this fire and continues to be monitored by air with water drops from helicopters as needed.

Slideout Fire #293: ½ acres. 0% contained. Located near Slideout Lake in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. No smoke was visible from this fire and it continues to be monitored by air.

Fire #296: .1 acres. 0% contained. Located near Slideout Lake in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. No smoke has been visible from this fire and it continues to be monitored by air.

Air Quality: Air quality reported from Air Now Air quality is acceptable, however for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. Information is also available at

Weather: Today, continued warm and dry with relative humidity dropping into the 20’s. Beginning on Sunday there will be an increase in winds prior to a wet cold front with cooler temperatures. Lower temperatures and increased relative humidity could inhibit fire growth.

Fire Behavior: Favorable weather conditions over the next few days will incrementally decrease fire behavior potential. Gusty winds will prevail over much of the fire area, however cooler temperatures, much better ridgetop relative humidity recovery and intermittent shading of fuels from passing clouds and smoke will aid in reducing chances of problem fire behavior.

Resources: 7 type 2 crews, 1 camp crew, 11 engines, 1 heavy helicopter, 1 light helicopter, 1 fixed wing air attack, 2 dozers, 6 masticators, 2 skidgens, 3 water tenders and 2 ambulances. Additional, critical resources are ordered. Resources remain limited and are prioritized within the region and nationally. Resources continue to be shared among nearby fires.

Air Operations: 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: Level 3 evacuations remain in place. Two days ago, the Marion County Sheriff's Office moved the evacuation level from Level 2 (Set) to Level 3 (Go) for the areas of Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes. For additional information regarding evacuation levels, contact the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, (503) 588-5108.

Highway Closures: FS Road 46 (Breitenbush Rd.) remains closed between Humbug and FR 6350. For more information visit Access into the Level 2 area is restricted to residents with proper entry credentials.

Forest Closures: For further information go to Campfires are prohibited on all public and private lands. One less spark is one less potential wildfire.