South Central Oregon Interagency Fire Incident Management Team 3 expects to have fulfilled its objectives early next week and restore management of the Watson Creek Fire to the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Paisley Ranger District.
The primary objective since the team took over Sept. 4 has been to repair damage left behind by suppression efforts, including brushing out hand and dozer lines; removing and chipping cut brush and branches to reduce fuels; road grading; scoring compressed ground to prevent erosion and run-off; cutting stumps low to the ground for aesthetic reasons; removing all fire flagging and signage; piling larger fuels for later prescription fire treatments; and backhauling equipment.
The fire will continue to smolder and smoke until a season-ending precipitation event occurs. Crews will patrol the perimeter and monitor hot spots until any chance of a re-ignition is gone.
The entire footprint of the fire was within the 300,000-acre area called ‘dead red,’ a lodge pole die-off from a decade ago. Less than 20 percent of that area was affected by the fire. Additionally, several meadows did not burn, and are currently being grazed by cattle that was consolidated in these safe areas.
Roads and infrastructure are still being assessed. A bridge near Sycan Dip on Forest Road 28 will require more extensive repairs and could be closed for eight weeks.
This will be the final update for South Central Oregon Interagency Fire Incident Management Team 3. For future information regarding the Watson Creek Fire, contact the Paisley Ranger District at 541-943-3114.
Many wildfires start around communities, threatening homes and property. Help firefighters protect your home by mowing yards, clearing dry brush and debris away from structures, and trimming overhanging branches.
Visit https://www.scofmp.org/restrictions.shtml for the most current fire restrictions and other information.