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Potato Hill Fire

Unit Information

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

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Update Potato Hill Fire Sept. 17, 2017

Potato Hill Fire Wildfire
News – 9/17/2017

Whitewater Fire - including Little Devil, Scorpion, Clagett Lake, Slideout, Fire #296 (Section Line) French and Potato Hill Fires

September 17, 2017 Daily Update

Fire Information Line: 541-719-8371,

Location: Willamette National Forest

Willamette National Forest Closures: 541-225-6350,

Size: 14,615 acres (total for reported fires) Containment: 35%

Resources Assigned: 367 personnel (total for reported fires)

Crews made good progress on the Little Devil, Whitewater and Scorpion Fires. Missions include work on improving the direct and indirect control lines to the west of Whitewater and Little Devil, and containing the Scorpion Fire within the east, west and south control lines. Firefighters continue to be challenged by the steep, rugged terrain and remote locations of the fires. Mop-up operations, patrolling and monitoring activities continue on the smaller fires which include Potato, French, Clagett, Slideout and Fire #296. Fire #296 has now been named the Section Line Fire. Evacuation levels remain in place for the Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes. Crews will continue to safely engage in firefighting activities despite the anticipated weather change.

McKenzie River Ranger District –visit Potato Hill on Inciweb for updates.

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 – visit Whitewater Fire on Inciweb for updates on the following fires.

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: 11,493 acres, 33% contained. Firefighters continue mopping up and securing lines on the southwest corner of the fire. The fire did move on Triangulation Peak to the north, but did not move to the west. A Type 1 helicopter making bucket drops worked to keep the fire in check cooling the most active areas of the fire when needed. Yesterday, a Type 1 firefighting crew assigned to the western perimeter spent the day assessing the Triangulation Peak area looking for opportunities to go direct. Firefighter safety was an issue and determined crews would not go direct on this portion of the fire.

Little Devil Fire: 2,125 acres, 5% contained. Recent growth of the fire has been limited to the northwest corner where aerial resources have been dropping water. Along the north end of the Little Devil Fire, a Type 1 crew will work on recon and assessment of the fire. If the smoke layer lifts today, the fire will become more active, but not threatening. Heavy equipment continues to work on both the east and west perimeter. 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: 695 acres, 5% contained. Firefighters continue work on the south end of the perimeter securing containment lines and to the north securing contingency lines. The Scorpion Fire remains in check between the east and west flanks, above Highway 46 and away from the power lines.

French Fire: 2 acres, 95% contained. Fire crews are completing repair work on the French Fire. Firefighters are working closely with Resource Advisors to identify repair work which includes removal of flagging and non-essential signage, falling trees and nags that represent a hazard to firefighter safety on the road systems, placement of water bars for erosion control and where other suppression activities have taken place. This fire is expected to be turned back to the local agency once the repair work has been completed..

Clagett Lake Fire: 100 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 (Now named the Section Line Fire): .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: Overcast skies with decreasing ceilings are expected throughout the day. Ridgetop winds will increase from the southwest and work down into the southwest facing slopes and aligned canyons in the afternoon. Relative humidity will drop in the afternoon and with incoming moisture will keep the relative humidity in check. Rain associated with an incoming upper trough is expected to start in the evening with snow levels dropping near 6,000 Monday morning.

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: 8 crews, 1 camp crew, 9 engines, 2 heavy helicopter, 1 light helicopter, 1 fixed wing air attack, 9 dozers, 4 masticators, 1 skidgens, 9 water tenders and 4 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.