Potato Hill Fire News Release

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Potato Hill Fire News Release

Update Potato Hill Fire Sept. 18, 2017

Incident: Potato Hill Fire Wildfire
Released: 9/18/2017

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

September 18, 2017 Daily Update

Fire Information Line: 541-719-8371, willamettewildfires2017@gmail.com

Location: Willamette National Forest

Willamette National Forest Closures: 541-225-6350, https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices

Size: 14,416 acres (total for reported fires) Containment: 35%

Resources Assigned: 399 personnel (total for reported fires)


The anticipated weather change slowed the spread of fire on the Little Devil, Whitewater and Scorpion Fires. Firefighters are safely engaging in suppression activities throughout the day. Heavy rains cause new safety hazards for responders such as slippery and impassible roads, difficulty navigating steep, rocky terrain and the possibility of hazard trees coming down due to the increase in wind and rain. Despite the change in weather, the work investment firefighters make today is as valuable to the containment of these fires. Mop-up operations, patrolling and monitoring activities continue on the smaller fires which include Claggett, Slideout and Fire #296. Fire #296 has now been named the Section Line Fire. Repair activities are now complete on the Potato Hill and French Fire and these fires are expected to be turned back to the local agency. Evacuation levels remain in place for the Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes. Fire managers will evaluated the change in evacuation levels today.

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

Potato Hill: 199 acres, 95% contained. The Potato Hill fire is now complete and will be turned back over to the local agency. 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 the northwest power grid, 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. Fire crews will be working closely with resource advisors on repair standards where suppression activities have taken place. These include ground disturbing activities such as dozer line, staging areas and landing zones. Minimal fire activity is expected on the Whitewater Fire.

Little Devil Fire: 2,125 acres, 5% contained. The Little Devil Fire continues to creep and smolder slowly downslope on the northwest perimeter. With the recent rains, minimal fire activity can be expected. Some fire spread will occur on the steeper slopes due to rolling debris. Heavy equipment continues to work on both the east and west perimeter. Crews will focus on prepping contingency lines along the road west of the fire. A Level 3 Evacuation remains in place for Breitenbush Hot Springs and communities of 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 http://www.co.marion.or.us/alerts. Fire managers will be evaluating the change in evacuation levels today.

Scorpion Fire: 695 acres, 5% contained. Fire crews maintained the southeast portion of the perimeter and will begin chipping work along containment 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. The French Fire is now complete and will be turned over to the local agency.

Claggett Lake Fire: 100 acres, 0% contained. Located near Claggett 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 http://www.airnow.gov/ . Air quality is acceptable, however for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern. Children, the elderly, and individuals with respiratory illnesses are most at risk of serious health effects. Information is also available at oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.

Weather: Wet and windy weather will continue to move through the area over the next few days. Showers expected today with heavier rainfall tonight and then on Tuesday night into Wednesday. Strong west to southwest winds expected through Tuesday night with strong gusts. Rainfall totals through Wednesday could be as much as 4 inches. A flash flood watch for the area has been issued by the National Weather Service.

Fire Behavior: Due to the rains, fuel moistures will increase over the next few days and adjust to the increased humidity. Fire activity will be limited to smoldering in the needle litter and duff. In the larger dead surface fuels, expect to see open flame with minimal spread.

Resources: 11 crews, 1 camp crew, 8 engines, 2 heavy helicopter, 1 light helicopter, 1 fixed wing air attack, 11 dozers, 4 masticators, 1 skidgens, 7 water tenders and 3 ambulances. Total personnel - 399. Resources remain limited and are prioritized within the region and nationally. Resources continue to be shared among nearby fires.

Air Operations: Areas of smoke may impact air operations. The low cloud ceiling and breezy conditions may impact operations as well. 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 remains in place for Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes. Fire managers will evaluate the evacuation levels today. 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 www.tripcheck.com. Access into the Level 2 area is restricted to residents with proper entry credentials.

Forest Closures: For further information go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices Campfires are prohibited on all public and private lands. One less spark is one less potential wildfire.

Unit Information

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Willamette National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
Oregon
Suite D
Springfield, OR 97477
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McKenzie River Ranger District
Phone: 541-822-3381
Hours: M-F 8:00AM-4:30PM

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