Potato Hill Fire News Release

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Potato Hill Fire News Release

Update Potato Hill Fire Sept. 19, 2017

Incident: Potato Hill Fire Wildfire
Released: 9/19/2017

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

September 19, 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: 423 personnel (total for reported fires)

With the heavy rainfall and mixed snow, fire crews plan to go from suppression activities to repair and retrieval of equipment on the Little Devil, Whitewater and Scorpion Fires. Fire activity has been minimal. Challenges for firefighters include slippery and impassible roads, difficulty navigating steep, rocky terrain and the possibility of hazard trees coming down due to the increased winds and rain. Suppression repair work, patrolling and monitoring activities continue on the smaller fires, weather permitting. This includes Claggett, Slideout and Section Line Fire. The French Fire is expected to be turned back to the local agency over the next few days. The Potato Hill Fire is now 100 percent contained and fire managers are discussing turning back the fire 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 on Wednesday. Today, most crews will remain at base camp due to the weather conditions and safety concerns with a few crews conducting recon for possible repair work.

Firefighters and heavy equipment work continues in much of the fire areas over the next week. The public is asked to drive cautiously due to increased traffic and potential smoke over the roadways. In addition, firefighters working under rain conditions may not be easily seen by hunters in the area. Hunters need to be conscious of their preferred hunting areas to avoid contact with firefighters in nearby closure areas.

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. With the heavy rains and snow, there was minimal fire activity on the Whitewater Fire. Due to the weather and safety concerns, fire crews will remain at base camp today.

Little Devil Fire: 2,125 acres, 5% contained. Yesterday, crews monitored containment lines to keep the fire south of Highway 46 in protection of the Breitenbush community and south of FS 4420 Road. 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. Firefighters will remain in base camp today due to the inclement weather and safety concerns.

Scorpion Fire: 695 acres, 5% contained. Fire crews maintained the southeast portion of the perimeter and will begin chipping work along containment lines once weather conditions are favorable. 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 when possible, 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 when possible.

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 when possible.

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

Potato Hill: 199 acres, 100% 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.

Air Quality: Air quality reported from Air Now http://www.airnow.gov/ . Air quality is acceptable. Information is also available at oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.

Weather: Wet and windy weather will continue through Wednesday before gradual clearing toward the weekend. Showery weather today will give way to widespread moderate to heavy rainfall tonight and into Wednesday. Strong west to southwest ridgetop winds are expected through tonight with some strong gusts reaching lower elevations. Rainfall totals could be as much as 4 inches. Snow levels continue near 5500 feet through Friday.

Fire Behavior: Due to the heavy rain and snow, 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. Expect minimal fire spread.

Resources: 9 crews, 3 camp crew, 10 engines, 1 heavy helicopter, 1 light helicopter, 1 fixed wing air attack, 13 dozers, 3 masticators, 1 skidgens, 11 water tenders and 3 ambulances. Total personnel is 423. 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 on Wednesday. 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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