Skip to comments.Fires burning across Oregon, (Still)
Posted on 08/15/2002 6:38:21 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
Fires burning across Oregon
The Associated Press 8/15/02 1:45 AM
Major wildfires are burning on about 479,000 acres in Oregon on Tuesday. About 9,400 firefighters are working in the state. The Northwest Interagency Communication Center is tracking five major fires in Oregon. Top priorities for fire officials Wednesday were the Biscuit fire, covering 390,276 acres, and the 44,880-acre Tiller Complex, and the 136-acre Hemlock fire.
BISCUIT FIRE (formerly called Florence Fire; name changed on 8/11/02)
Started: Florence fire started 26 miles west of Grant Pass, 07/13/02; Sour Biscuit started 17 miles southwest of Cave Junction.
Size: 390,276 acres.
Containment: 26 percent.
Evacuations: The entire Illinois Valley on 12-hour notice to evacuate. Agness, on northwest corner of the fire, is on 24-hour evacuation notice.
Damage: 4 residences and 8 outbuildings.
On scene: 6,383 firefighters.
Started: Outside Tiller, east of Canyonville off Interstate 5, 07/12/02.
Size: 44,880 acres.
Containment: 41 percent.
Evacuations: South Umpqua Road closed at milepost 6. Fifteen residences threatened. Tribal ceremonial grounds and critical cultural resources are threatened.
Damage: No listed damage.
On scene: 2,026 firefighters
MONUMENT-MALHEUR COMPLEX (Monument and Malheur fires merged under one management team, 8/11/02)
Started: 9 miles southwest of Unity, 07/12/02
Size: 43,894 acres
Containment: 95 percent.
Evacuations: None at this time.
On Scene: 419 firefighters.
Started: 1/2 mile north of Westfir
Size: 136 acres
Containment: 75 percent.
Evacuations: None at this time.
On Scene: 479 firefighters.
Cause: Under investigation.
BALD GREEN BUTTE
Started: 17 miles east of Burns, 8/11/02
Size: 89 acres.
Containment: 85 percent.
On Scene: 127 firefighters.
Cause: Human caused, under investigation.
Structural firefighting teams were stationed at homes along Dead Indian Memorial Road, but there was no immediate threat to homes, said Oregon Department of Forestry spokeswoman Keren Gillespie. There were no evacuation notices issued, and no estimated date for containing the fire.
Antelope fire has moved into low vegetation - fire fighters are optimistic. Hopefully it can move into Ashland and burn a few bath houses.
If there are any FReepers in Ashland.....wait a minute... no chance in hell any rightminded FReeper would live in that liberal craphole of a town.
I wish these reporters would ask the firefighters how many dead bears they have found so far. That would get attention.
For those not familiar with Oregon law, you can't even think about pumping your own gas in Oregon. The law creates jobs.
and WENDY OWEN
Flames snaking over a ridge in gusty overnight winds claimed a historic fire lookout, lately used as a popular vacation rental, after fire crews failed in a last-ditch effort to save the lookout by wrapping it in protective sheathing.
The Snow Camp Lookout on Snow Camp Mountain fell victim to the 378,865-acre Biscuit fire, still only 26 percent contained after burning for one month. The fire was caused by a July 13 lightning strike.
Soaring temperatures, dense smoke and bone-dry humidity increased the challenge Tuesday for the nearly 6,400 firefighters struggling to keep the blaze from breaching fire lines.
Temperatures at some fire camps hit 100 degrees. Firefighters on the west side of the Biscuit fire said temperatures were in the high 80s on the fire lines.
Fire spokeswoman Susan Mathison said the fire had crossed fire lines in two key areas on the west side of the fire -- on Snow Camp Mountain and near the Wilderness Retreat along the Chetco River.
"It's playing leapfrog with itself," said Ray Hershey, division supervisor.
Fire crews from Maine, Canada, Montana, New Zealand and other places waited impatiently Tuesday along a U.S. Forest Service road 12 miles northeast of Pistol River. The firefighters had been ordered away from the front for their own safety until their supervisors came up with another strategy.
Canadian firefighter J.D. Bishop and his crew have been repeatedly sent in and pulled out as the unpredictable fire continued setting spot fires.
Heavy smoke kept helicopters grounded Tuesday, forcing crews on the ground to scout the fire on foot. That slowed fire managers, who had to wait for reports before deploying firefighters to build new lines or fight spot fires.
Mathison said residents of Wilderness Retreat, a community of 20 homes 13 miles east of Brookings, had already left voluntarily. The fire was last reported within four miles of the homes, but its precise location was difficult to determine because of dense smoke.
Mathison said officials decided against sending a night shift into the area for safety reasons.
The fire which breached the fire line on Snow Camp Mountain had consumed 125 acres Tuesday and was still growing. "It's very smoky," Mathison said. "It's hard to get a handle on where it's spotting."
The Snow Camp Lookout, located 36 miles northeast of Brookings, was the latest in a small number of homes and other structures lost to the Biscuit fire, now entering its fifth week. Before departing ahead of advancing flames, firefighters had tried to save the 15-by-15 foot structure by wrapping it in protective sheathing.
The lookout was constructed in 1958 on the site of an earlier lookout of the same name, used by spotters to watch for enemy aircraft during World War II. The site is about 15 miles north of Mount Emily, where a Japanese aircraft dropped an incendiary device on Sept. 9, 1942, in a failed attempt to ignite a devastating forest fire.
The Snow Camp Lookout, at 4,223 feet above sea level, was last used as a fire lookout in 1972. Since 1990, the Forest Service has made it available for recreational rentals. It's listed in the National Historic Lookout Register as one of the last lookouts in the Siskiyou National Forest.
In a 1996 book, David Calahan said that the lookout offered renters breathtaking views. He said furnishings included a double bed, foam mattress, table, chairs, wood stove and woodbox, along with a firefinder and wind gauge "so that you know how powerful those winds are that seem determined to blow you off the mountain."
He also said the outhouse was worthy of praise. "You can leave the door open and have a most fantastic view with little concern that anyone will look back at you."
Mathison said the lookout could accommodate one family at a time and that the waiting list was always long. "It will be missed by many, many people," she said.
Smoke also posed difficulties for the nearly 1,900 firefighters on the 44,103-acre Tiller Complex fires in Douglas County, where three firefighters were injured Tuesday.
Fire spokesman Jon Silvius said an unidentified soldier with the Oregon National Guard fell about 50 feet and was taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center as a precaution. Another firefighter suffered heat exhaustion and was treated at the fire line. And another firefighter had an allergic reaction to a bee sting.
A weather inversion kept both the smoke and the fires low to the ground.
"It's good for fire behavior," said fire spokesman Jon Silvius. "But it's horrible that firefighters have to breathe this stuff." He said visibility was only a quarter-mile at fire headquarters, and less closer to the fires, still only 40 percent contained. By the end of the day, the inversion lifted and visibility increased to a mile, Silvius said.
Other smaller fires broke out in and around Oregon.
A new fire, the East Antelope fire, started about 14 miles east of Medford on Tuesday. It had reached nearly 300 acres by the end of the day, said Jeff Schwanke, district forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry. Officials were using 160 firefighters, three air tankers and four helicopters to battle the blaze. Crews were optimistic about getting it controlled by today. The fire was apparently started when a power line sagged in the heat and hit trees.
A fire burned 40 acres of brush and timber near Longview, Wash., endangering several homes, which were saved. The Cowlitz County sheriff's office said a 16-year-old boy admitted accidentally starting the fire and was charged Monday with first-degree reckless burning. Two other teens were charged with making false statements to a public servant.
A one-acre fire was quickly contained in Tillamook County, about three miles north of Manzanita on the coast, said David Wells of the Oregon Department of Forestry. The fire forced a temporary closure of U.S. 101.
Use your arrow at the right hand bottom of the screen to scroll right to see the other fires blazing in Ore Gone up in fire and smoke. The Tiller Complex in the Upper Umpquah Valley is pretty awesome:
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