Potato Hill Fire News Release

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Potato Hill Fire News Release

Update Potato Hill Fire Sept. 20, 2017

Incident: Potato Hill Fire Wildfire
Released: 9/20/2017

Whitewater Fire - including Little Devil, Scorpion, Clagett Lake, Slideout, Fire #296 (Section Line) French and Potato Hill FiresSeptember 20, 2017 Daily UpdateFire Information Line: 541-719-8371, willamettewildfires2017@gmail.comLocation: Willamette National ForestWillamette National Forest Closures: 541-225-6350, https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-noticesSize: 14,416 acres (total for reported fires) Containment: 43%Resources Assigned: 429 personnel (total for reported fires)
Rain will continue this morning and turn to a snow/rain mixture by this afternoon. As a result, fire crews have transitioned from fire suppression to repair activities including road, trail and terrain repair and retrieval of equipment on the Little Devil, Whitewater and Scorpion Fires. Fire activity has been minimal since Monday. Weather creates a number of safety hazards for firefighters including slippery, impassible roads, difficulty navigating steep, rocky terrain and the possibility of hazard trees coming down. Evacuation levels for Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes, has been changed to Level 1.
Yesterday, Congressman Kurt Schrader visited McCoy Base Camp and met with agency representatives from the Willamette National Forest, Oregon Department of Forestry and Northwest Incident Management Team 11 to get an update on the fire situation, meet local firefighters and contract crews and discuss budgetary challenges related to the fire.
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. Monitoring of the smaller fires including Claggett Lake, Slideout and Section Line continue, weather permitting. The Potato Hill and French Fires are now 100 percent contained and fire managers are discussing turning back the fire to the local agency.
Safety is the priority for firefighters and the public. With inclement weather, the roads are slick and there may be debris on the roadways. Please drive cautiously. In addition, firefighters working under rainy 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.
Today’s total containment percentage includes all fires excluding the French and Potato Hill Fires. Containment percentages were re-evaluated to capture a more accurate depiction of secure containment lines.
McKenzie River Ranger District –visit Potato Hill on Inciweb for updates.
Potato Hill: 199 acres, 100% contained. The Potato Hill Fire ready to turn back over to the local agency. Smoke can still be seen within the perimeter of the fire. This is expected until more rain or ground-covering snow arrives later in the season.

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. With the heavy rains and snow, there was minimal fire activity on the Whitewater Fire. Due to the weather and safety concerns, fire crews are evaluating working conditions and working only when and where it is safe to do so.
Little Devil Fire: 2,125 acres, 0% contained. The Level 3 for Breitenbush Hot Springs and communities of Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes was changed to a Level 1 on Tuesday. Level 1 means “Ready” which is a state or awareness about fire activity. Due to the weather and safety concerns, fire crews are evaluating working conditions and working only when and where it is safe to do so. Although the Little Devil’s containment is reported as 0%, the fire continues to hold on the west and east sides where it has crept up to the drainages.
Scorpion Fire: 695 acres, 16% 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 almost ready to turn back over to the local agency.
Claggett Lake Fire: 100 acres, 0% contained. Located near Claggett Lake in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area. There has been very little smoke visible from this fire, and crews will continue 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.
Air Quality: Air quality reported from Air Now http://www.airnow.gov.
Weather: Wet, snowy weather will continue through Wednesday before gradually clearing for the weekend. Rainy weather today will give way to widespread rainfall in lower areas and snow at higher elevations for the afternoon and evening. Rainfall totals could be as much as 4 inches with snow levels near 5,500 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. Minimal fire spread expected.
Resources: 9 crews, 3 camp crew, 10 engines, 1 heavy helicopter, 1 light helicopter, 1 fixed wing air attack, 15 dozers, 3 masticators, 1 skidgens, 11 water tenders and 3 ambulances. Total personnel is 429. Resources continue to be shared among nearby fires.
Air Operations: The majority of air operations have been focused on equipment retrieval. The low cloud ceiling and breezy conditions also impact 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: Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush/Devil Creek summer homes are now 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.
Forest Closures: For further information, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/willamette/alerts-notices.

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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
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