(Update: New acreage, personnel figure, Sunday night efforts)
Cascade Lakes Highway, Hwy. 58 closure shortened; infrastructure prepped at Lava Lake Resort
OAKRIDGE, Ore. (KTVZ) — Critical fire weather eased for over 1,200 firefighters battling the Cedar Creek Fire on Sunday, after hot, dry winds caused it to explode to nearly 87,000 acres. The wind shift and cooler temperatures allowed reduced evacuation levels in some areas after a rough weekend that saw containment of the 6-week-old blaze roll back to zero.
A total of 1,229 firefighters from 29 states have been called in to help fight the fast-growing fire, which as of Sunday night had burned 86,724 acres.
“Weather is on their side, as it’s currently 72 degrees and a light drizzle just came through Oakridge,” the Sunday night Facebook update said. “Safety is a top priority, though, as night operations can be challenging and dangerous work.”
The West Side team said Sunday’s cooler weather allowed crews to hold primary lines and make progress on alternate lines, keeping the fire north of Highway 58 and east of Forest Road 2409 near Eagle Butte.
Here’s Sunday morning’s update:
Cedar Creek Fire
September 11, 2022
Daily Update – 7:00 AM
Cedar Creek Fire Quick Facts
Size: 85,926 acres
Start Date: August 1, 2022
Location: 15 miles E of Oakridge, OR
Total personnel: 994
Resources: 53 engines, 19 crews, 62 heavy equipment, 8 helicopters
Current Situation: A Level 3 evacuation remains in place for the greater Oakridge, Westfir, and High Prairie area. There have been no changes in evacuation levels or areas in the last day. The fire grew significantly due to the weekend’s weather event (over 32,000 acres), primarily to the west, driven by strong easterly winds and dry fuels. Because the fire breached existing lines, the fire’s containment has been dropped to 0%.
Currently, 2,230 homes and 443 commercial structures remain under threat from the Cedar Creek Fire. The Office of the Oregon State Fire Marshal has committed seven task forces and an incident management team to protect homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure in the area. Due to strong east winds and triple-digit temperatures, that work has primarily focused on the west side of the fire. As conditions change and winds shift, firefighters with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office will continue to evaluate threats to lives and properties. Fire crews will continue working day and night shifts to access structures and patrol critical areas where the fire is encroaching.
Status: Yesterday evening, as winds started moving toward the east, firefighters on the western flank completed strategic burning operations near Eagle Butte, 5 miles northeast of Oakridge. The fire remained north of Highway 58, south of Forest Road 19, and east of Eagle Butte. Today, resources will maintain a heavy presence on the Highway 58 and Forest Road 19 corridors as they continue direct attack on the fire. Crews on the western flanks will mop up and secure burnout operations.
In the east zone, direct checking actions continued on the southeast edge of the fire in the Waldo Lake area. Efforts are focused on creating fire breaks along existing roads and other barriers and burn-out operations to reduce fuels. Heavy equipment is arriving on site for use near Cultus Lake and Little Cultus Lake, and along the Cascade Lakes Highway and forest roads. The Cascade Lakes Highway remains closed to protect the public and firefighters as crews remove brush.
Some areas near Cedar Creek Fire downgraded to a Level 2 (Be Set) evacuation notice; others remain at Level 3 (GO NOW)
Lane Co. Sheriff’s Office – 09/11/22 11:47 AM
The Lane County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with the fire teams, is able to reduce the follow areas to Level 2 (Be Set):
- Oakridge west of Salmon Creek, south of Laurel Butte Road, and north of the Middle Fork Willamette River
- The City of Westfir
The following areas remain at a Level 3 (GO NOW) evacuation notification and re-entry is not allowed at this time:
- High Prairie area, including all of High Prairie Road, Brock Road, Bar BL Ranch Road, Nubian Way, Mountain View Road, and Huckleberry Lane
- Westfir-Oakridge Road from Westfir city limits to Roberts Road
- McFarland Road
- Oakridge north of Laurel Butte Road, and Oakridge east of Salmon Creek
- Hills Creek Reservoir area south of Highway 58 and Greenwaters Park
An updated map of the evacuation areas is available at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/CedarCreek.
While every effort is being made to protect the communities of Oakridge, Westfir and High Prairie, it is possible that conditions may require moving back to a Level 3 (GO NOW) evacuation notice in some or all of these areas and that can happen at any time.
People who have mobility limitations, specials needs or who are medically fragile are encouraged not to return to the Level 2 (Be Set) area. People who lack access to reliable transportation and those with large animals or pets that can be time-consuming or difficult to move are also encouraged not to return to the Level 2 (Be Set) area.
Highway 58 will remain closed from milepost 37 on the east side of town to milepost 70 at Crescent Lake (later changed to Willamette Pass, milepost 62).
Lane County Animal Services will continue to operate the large animal evacuation shelter at the Lane Events Center to provide a safe place to house animals from properties in Level 2 (Be Set) and Level 3 (GO NOW) areas.
ODOT advisory Sunday afternoon:
ODOT: Valley, No. Coast: The east side closure point for the OR 58 Willamette Highway Cedar Creek Fire closure is now at Willamette Pass, milepost 62. On the west side the road is open between Interstate 5 and Oakridge. Expect traffic on the west side as some evacuation levels have been lowered and people are returning.
Van Meter Fire update: Sept. 11
Fire size: 2,502 acres
Structures lost: 2 homes, 7 other
Resources assigned: 518
Fire information: 541-363-8140
Klamath Falls, Ore. – Today, firefighting operations on the Van Meter Fire will transition fully into mop-up with the completion of hoselays into the southern portion of the fire. Firefighters will use water to cool hot-spots and wet burning fuels. This will increase the efficiency of mop-up and support firefighting activities to widen the black, cold area along the fire perimeter.
The fire remains within the existing footprint and is 2,502 acres.
Last night crews used hand-held infrared viewers to detect hot spots along the perimeter on the northeast side of the fire. Firefighters will pay special attention through the day to these areas, cooling with water, exposing burning material, and ensuring the spots are cool to the touch. Use of the hand-held infrared devices will continue tonight.
Structural task forces from the Rogue Valley and Deschutes County returned to their home units Saturday. The Klamath County Structural Task Force is available if needed for structural protection and wildland resources will continue to monitor, patrol, and mop-up within the residential areas.
One minor accident occurred on the fireline Saturday during dayshift and falling snags and trees continue to be a primary safety concern for firefighters on the line. Significant effort is focused on safely falling snags near the fire perimeter and in travel routes for firefighter safety.
Residential traffic is allowed in the fire area, but residents are encouraged to drive slowly and be aware of fire operation traffic as they travel through the fire. Bureau of Land Management lands in and around the fire area remain closed to the public.
Evacuation levels continue to be evaluated based on fire behavior. For the latest up-to-date evacuation information, please visit the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KlamathSheriff or call 541-205-9730. The Red Cross Evacuation Shelter at the Klamath County Fair and Event Center has been closed.
Temperatures today on the fire will be cooler with higher humidity and the potential for some precipitation tonight and possible showers and thunderstorms on Monday. As the weather transitions from hot and dry to these cooler conditions there will be an increase in the wind.
A Temporary Flight Restriction exists around the fire to limit any aircraft not associated with firefighting activities in the airspace. Wildfires are always a no-fly zone for drones. A drone flying in the area can ground all operational aircraft and impact suppression activities.
Crockets Knob Fire Wildfire Update
HIGH DESERT TYPE 3 TEAM
Incident Commander: Ron Simpson
September 11, 2022
High Desert Type 3 Incident Management Team took command of the Crockets Knob Fire today.
Weather: Today will be slightly warmer with calm terrain driven winds. Temperatures will reach the low-80s and relative humidity will drop into the upper teens. Moisture will steadily increase today with expected cloud cover by this evening.
Operations: Yesterday, crews continued pulling hoses and excess equipment from containment lines. Much of the chipping and cleanup was completed along FSR 45 yesterday, and some work will continue today along other containment lines. Crews are checking containment lines for any remnant heat and mopping up using hand tools. Crews continue with suppression repairs along FSR 45 and other containment lines. Helicopters are available to assist firefighters if needed.
Closures and Evacuations: Grant County has lifted the Level One evacuation advisory in the area of the fire, and County Road 20 (Middle Fork Road) has been fully reopened.
Today, the National Forests’ closure area will decrease in size. The Forest areas west of FSR 45 will once again be open to the public. For complete closure information, please go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/malheur/notices/?cid=STELPRD3845529
Smoke may be visible to nearby communities and Forest visitors. Smoke and air quality impacts within the state can be monitored by visiting: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com
The Malheur National Forest’s Public Use Restriction is Phase C on the Blue Mountain and Prairie City Ranger Districts. No campfires or personal chainsaw use is allowed. The Umatilla National Forest remains in at Phase B, which allows campfires only in designated campgrounds and recreation sites. For more information, please go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/malheur/fire, and
Fire Danger remains High for the surrounding area. The vegetation is still very dry, and one spark or ember could start a significant fire. The public can help us by making good decisions when they recreate on public lands and by following local fire restrictions.
SIZE: 4,337 Acres
LOCATION: 19 miles north of Prairie City
TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTION
There is a Temporary Flight Restriction over the Crockets Knob Fire area. Wildfires are a No Drone Zone – if you fly, we can’t.
Double Creek, Sturgill, Nebo, Goat Mountain Two Fires
September 11, 2022
Daily Update – 8:00 AM
Highlights: The Double Creek Fire spotted across the Imnaha River yesterday afternoon near Imnaha Grange and is approximately 500 acres. Six additional large air tankers were called in to join suppression efforts aided by the support of Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center. The air tankers worked with resources from the Double Creek Fire, Nebo Fire, Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM), local resources and tactical firefighting aircraft air attack on the spot fire. Crews from Double Creek and Nebo Fires remained on the fire into the morning, continuing suppression efforts.
Double Creek Fire: 152,301 acres | 15% contained | 773 personnel assigned
The lightning-caused Double Creek Fire is a full suppression fire, and the protection of lives and property remain the primary objectives of this incident. The spot fire near Imnaha Grange is part of the Double Creek Fire acreage growth. The River Group on the eastern side of the fire, along the Snake River, made good progress on structure protection along the fire side of the river and are near completion of those efforts. In the north, crews continue working on the east-west containment line and are exploring opportunities to further strengthen control features.
Weather: Elevated fire weather conditions occurred Saturday with warm, sunny, and dry conditions. Relative humidity dropped to 10 to 20 percent for much of the area. South winds at 10 to 15 mph were observed across the ridgetops with gusts up to 25 mph. Temperatures and relative humidity values today will be similar to Saturday. Wind speeds will be strongest in the morning before weakening by 1:00 p.m., which will aid firefighting efforts.
Smoke: The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an Air Quality Advisory that is in effect until 2 PM PDT Monday for Deschutes, Umatilla, Union, and Wallowa counties. A smoke outlook for northeast Oregon is available from the wildland fire air quality response program. Additional information can be found at PurpleAir website.
Evacuations: Level 3 “Go Now” is in effect for Fence Creek north to Dug Bar and Freezeout south to the 39 Road. Level 2 “Get Set” is in effect for lands west of Imnaha River to Bear Gulch Road, south of Highway 350 to intersection of power lines and Harl Butte Road; Upper and Lower Imnaha Road from Fence Creek to Freezeout; and for Lostine River Road from Fir Road south to Two Pan (including all campgrounds and trailheads). Level 1 “Be Ready” is in effect for lands west of Bear Gulch Road, south of Highway 350 to power lines and Harl Butte Road, and for Lostine River Road from Highway 82 to Fir Road.
Wallowa Whitman National Forest Temporary Area Closures: The Wallowa Whitman National Forest issued Temporary Area Closures for the Double Creek Fire, Nebo Fire, and Sturgill Fire (includes Goat Mountain 2 Fire) on Monday. Closure Orders and Maps are available on the Wallowa Whitman National Forest Fire Incident Updates page.
Road Closures: Lostine River Road from Moffitt’s south is closed. Highway 350 (Little Sheep Creek Highway) at mile marker 6.5 is closed due to the following closures: Lower Imnaha Road and Dug Bar Road are closed, Upper Imnaha Road is closed, Hat Point Road is closed, and FS 39 Road is closed from Target Springs Junction to Ollokot Campground [including the Canal Rd (3920) and Lick Creek Road (3925)].
Airspace: Airspace restrictions have been issued for the Double Creek, Nebo, Sturgill, and Goat Mountain 2 Fires. Temporary Flight Restrictions were updated for the Double Creek Fire (TFR 2/5592) and the Sturgill Fire (TFR 2/3189) to provide a safe environment for firefighting aircraft operations over the fires. Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) 08/234 and NOTAM 08/235 were issued to provide safe airspace for the Nebo and Goat Mountain 2 Fires. Flight restrictions also apply to drones. Drones flying in areas of wildfire activity will cause firefighting aircraft to be grounded.
Restrictions: Forest Order #06-16-00-22-04 covers Phase B Fire Restrictions for all National Forest System Lands within the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, except for the area within a ¼ mile of the Snake River between Hells Canyon Dam, River Mile 247.5, downstream to the Oregon-Washington border at Snake River Mile 176.0, which is regulated by Forest Order #06-16-04-22-01.
Fire Information Office Hours:
8:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Email: [email protected]
Rum Creek Fire update
Sept. 11, 2022
Size: 21,347 acres
Percent of perimeter contained: 69%
Total personnel: 977
Rum Creek Fire passes the weather test
MERLIN, Ore. – The Rum Creek Fire has now been tested by several days of critically low relative humidity, high temperatures, and periods of gusty winds. Few flare-ups were reported and no spot fires were found outside the containment lines. Acreage has not changed for two days, and containment has increased to 69% despite the adverse weather.
Last night, an air mass moved into the area, bringing clouds, cooler temperatures and higher humidity. Tonight and tomorrow, remnants of Tropical Storm Kay will pass over the fire vicinity, possibly bringing showers.
Operations Section Chief Manny Mendoza summarized the Rum Creek Fire’s status as: “We are cautiously optimistic that things are going our way.”
Any moisture will quickly infiltrate fine fuels like grasses and dead twigs, making them less likely to burn. These are the fuels which usually catch fire first and cause fires to spread and grow rapidly. Increased moisture in fine fuels is akin to using damp paper to start a campfire. Relative humidity usually drops during the day, but rises at night.
Larger fuels like stumps and logs take much longer to absorb moisture from the air and rain. In the interior of the fire, these larger fuels may continue to smolder or burn until they are extinguished by heavy winter rain and snow. Most of the fine fuels near them have burned or will have a higher moisture content, making fire spread unlikely.
Near the fire’s edges, firefighters continue to search for and extinguish burning logs, stump holes, and other hot spots. They are also pulling out surplus equipment, no longer needed for fire suppression. The firefighters camped near the northwest edge of the fire will complete their mission today and return to the main camp near Merlin tonight. Firefighters will continue to monitor and suppress this part of the fire.
As suppression work is completed on a section of the fire, resources will begin repair work to fix damage done by the firefighting efforts. A major part of repair is erosion control, mainly stabilizing exposed soils on fire lines by constructing waterbars.
Waterbars are a series of dips and mounds placed at an angle across the fire line. Runoff from rain and melting snow flows down the fire line until it is intercepted by a waterbar. Water is directed off of the erodible soil onto more stable ground. Some waterbars are constructed using heavy equipment such as dozers and excavators; others are dug by hand. This erosion control keeps soil on slopes and out of streams and rivers, where it can harm water quality and spawning habitat for salmon.
Evacuations: Evacuation orders and notifications have not changed. An interactive map showing evacuation levels according to address can be found at //JosephineCounty.gov/FireMap. For the most current evacuation information and resources, go to Josephine County Incident Information (rvem.org).
Road control: Josephine County Sheriff’s Office has established traffic access points around the fire zone. Road blocks are located at Galice Store; Bear Camp Road at Peavine (top intersection); Lower Grave Creek Road at Angora Creek (Grays Ranch); Quartz Creek Road about 3 miles up (end of County maintenance); Dutch Henry Road near Kelsey Creek (42 44’56.2/123 40’35.4); and Hog Creek at Galice Road. Only residents (must show proof of residency) and permitted users will be allowed through.
River status: The Wild section of the Rogue River below Grave Creek will remain open unless fire conditions warrant closure. River status is determined on a day-to-day basis. Please call 541-471-6535 for more information regarding Rogue River permits. No new boating permits will be issued at this time.