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C.O. storms bring more lightning - but also welcome rain

Hail, downpours - and 'good rain' on big fires

SISTERS, Ore. - (Updates: Nine new small fires, downpours on Milli, Nash fires)

Thunderstorms rumbled north through the High Desert late Thursday afternoon, bringing hundreds more lightning strikes but also the first welcome rain in weeks across much of the parched High Desert — including big downpours on the region’s two largest fires.

The lightning was “abundant,” according to Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern, but the storms also brought “good rain” on both of the Deschutes National Forest’s biggest fires, the Milli and Nash.

There were reports of heavy downpours on Bend's Westside, in Deschutes River Woods to the south and hail in the La Pine area. 

Amid severe thunderstorm warnings, a weather spotter told the National Weather Service at dime-sized hail in Tumalo, while others reported hail a quarter- to half-inch in size. 

Firefighters were still responding in the early evening to new smoke reports. So far, Kern said, firefighters were staffing nine new fires, most held at a tenth of an acre or less.

The largest, at  about an acre, had minimal spread potential in the Diamond Peak Wilderness and was staffed by seven smokejumpers.

A Red Flag Warning remains in place through Friday at 11 p.m. for abundant lightning and gusty outflow winds.

Central Oregon received varying amounts of rain, though downpours were reported over the two large fires in the area, the Milli Fire west of Sisters and the Nash Fire burning near Nash Lake in the Three Sisters Wilderness.

For the Central Oregon Fire Information Fire hotline, please call 541-316-7711 or keep up-to-date on fire activity by following on Twitter at @CentralORFire.

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From earlier in the day, here are Thursday's full updates on the Nash and Milli Fires in Central Oregon and the multiple fires burning on the Willamette National Forest and southwest Oregon's Chetco Bar Fire, by far the largest in the state:

Fire Information: (541) 316-7711
Containment: 60%
Size: 24,079
Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5517/
Milli Fire September 7, 2017 Daily Update

There is a Red Flag Warning in effect through Friday at 11:00 p.m. for abundant lightning and gusty outflow winds. If any new fires are ignited from lightning strikes in the Milli Fire area, the team will respond to them.

 Firefighters continue repairing and rehabilitating fire line along the northwestern edge of the fire area. Crews also continue monitoring the perimeter as it pushes into the lava flows along Highway 242 ensuring that all hot spots are monitored until cold. The majority of heat from this fire remains in the southwestern edge of the fire perimeter as it moves slowly south in the Pole Creek burn and west into rock.

 Acreage on this fire will likely grow moderately in the coming week while containment remains at 60%.  The west side of the fire continues to burn down slope with occasional torching in pockets of timber in the Three Sisters Wilderness and will continue to extinguish naturally when it runs out of fuel in the lava fields. Fire will also continue a slow move to the southwest in the Pole Creek burn area where overhead hazards remain a concern for firefighter safety. When necessary, firefighter will utilize indirect firefighting tactics like helicopter bucket drops to cool hot spots.
Links

Road Closures - OR 242 is closed east of Cascade Crest to the junction of FR 15. For further information see www.tripcheck.com

Forest Closures- For further information go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/deschutes/alerts-notices

Smoke monitoring- Information is available at: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com

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Nash Fire Update, September 7
 

BEND –The Nash Fire, burning approximately 4 miles from Elk Lake, experienced minimal growth yesterday. Some light rain is expected on the fire today. It is at 6,159 acres and no containment figure.

Firefighters anticipate another 3 to 4 days of clearing vegetation along the Cascade Lakes Highway (Forest Road 46), which will create an opportunity should the fire move east for firefighters to protect the infrastructure around Elk and Hosmer Lakes and Cascade Lakes Highway.

Approximately 100 firefighters are working on the Nash Fire under command of the Type 1 Incident Management Team (Southwest Team 1). Incident Commander Bea Day along with Deschutes National Forest leadership is managing the 6,159 acre fire.

Direct action on the fire continues to be hampered by the steep terrain and safety hazards for firefighters. Crews will take direct action on the fire when they can safely engage.

There is a Red Flag Warning again today, Thursday, for abundant lightning. The smoke and cloud cover should moderate fire activity but there is still the potential for strong outflow winds associated with thunderstorms which could increase fire activity.

Evacuation Notifications for the NASH FIRE:

Level Two (Be Set): Elk Lake Resort, Elk Lake Campground (CG), Point CG, Little Fawn CG, Mallard Marsh CG, Sunset View Day Use Area, Beach Day Use Area, and Quinn Meadows Horse Camp.

Level One (Be Ready): Lava Lake Resort, Lava Lake CG, and Little Lava Lake CG.

For information on these evacuation notifications, you can call the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office at 541-693-6911.

 

Sign up for Deschutes County emergency alerts at http://bit.ly/2f3NWMA. Contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 6936911 or visit https://sheriff.deschutes.org for more information.

For fire information on the Nash Fire, please call 541-719-8371 or email: WillametteWildfires2017@gmail.com.

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Willamette Fire updates:

Weather should Moderate Fire Behavior Today


There is a Red Flag Warning again today, Thursday, for abundant lightning. The smoke and cloud cover should moderate fire activity but there is still the potential for strong outflow winds associated with thunderstorms which could increase fire activity.

Approximately 865 personnel are assigned to the fires listed below. Resources include hand crews, helicopters, engines, dozers, water tenders, masticators, feller-bunchers, and chippers under the management of a Type 1 Incident Management Team.

DETROIT RANGER DISTRICT – see Whitewater Fire on InciWeb for updates on the following fires

The SCORPION FIRE (546 ac), burning in steep, inaccessible terrain, is expected to grow slowly toward the northwest. Crews finished the two-day task of thoroughly wrapping the historic 1934 Gold Butte lookout in fire resistant material. Today, they will continue chipping and clearing FSR 46 and the Humbug road. FSR 46, campgrounds and trailheads along the road are now closed beginning at the intersection with Forest Road 4696 and continuing slightly beyond the intersection with Forest Road 6350.

The WHITEWATER FIRE (10,916 ac) and LITTLE DEVIL FIRE (1,475 ac) have not yet bridged the gap between the two fires. Little Devil is expected to move slightly to the north today, Firefighters are strengthening the line on the west flank of the Whitewater and prepping an indirect line on the northeast. The FRENCH FIRE (2 ac) remains inactive.

Due to the Scorpion and Little Devil Fires, the Breitenbush Hot Springs Area is in Level 2 (Set) evacuation status. Humbug and Breitenbush Campgrounds, the Fox Creek and Cleator Bend Group Sites, and the Short Mountain and Bald Butte Trailheads are closed. Sign up for Marion County Emergency Alerts at www.co.marion.or.us or call (503) 588-5108 for more info.

MCKENZIE RIVER RANGER DISTRICT – see Horse Creek Complex, Nash, Rebel, and Potato Hill on InciWeb for the following fires

The HORSE CREEK COMPLEX (21,876 combined acres) includes the Avenue Fire, located southeast of McKenzie Bridge, and nearby Separation, Olallie Lookout, and Roney Fires. Highway 242 is closed between McKenzie Bridge and Sisters.
Over the last few days there has not been much fire activity on both the OLALLIE LOOKOUT FIRE (1,156 ac) and RONEY FIRE (3,055 ac). The fires will continue to be monitored by air and MODIS Thermal Satellite.

The AVENUE FIRE (1,893 ac), based on recent Infrared imagery, has moved to the west to the area south of Foley Hot Springs. There should be little to moderate activity on Avenue Fire today unless there are strong thunderstorm winds. Firefighters have been removing brush and trimming up trees along Horse Creek Road and will continue to patrol and monitor in and around the communities of Rainbow, McKenzie Bridge and Belknap Springs.

On the SEPARATION FIRE (15,772 ac), the spot that crossed north of Hwy 242 is near the Melakwa Boy Scout Camp but there have been no impacts to the camp. Separation Fire is south of Hwy 242 and expected to move slowly to the northwest. Highway 126 is open.

Due to the Avenue and Separation fires, the communities of Belknap Springs and McKenzie Bridge are mostly under a Level 2 (Set) evacuation, an area south of Horse Creek Road by Foley Hot Springs is under a Level 3 (Go!) evacuation, and the community west of Rainbow is under a Level 1 (Ready) evacuation. Sign up for Lane County Emergency Alerts at lanecounty.org/prepare or call the Joint Information Center for more information at 541-682-3977

The NASH FIRE (6,159 ac) Primary actions for the fire continue to be protecting infrastructure and resources around Elk and Hosmer Lakes and prepping line adjacent to the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway (Forest Road 46).

Due to the Nash Fire, the areas surrounding Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake in Deschutes County remain at Level 2 (Set) evacuation and the areas surrounding Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake are in in Level 1 (Ready) evacuation status. Sign up for Deschutes County emergency alerts at http://bit.ly/2f3NWMA. Contact the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 693-6911 or visit https://sheriff.deschutes.org for more information.

The northern extent of the REBEL FIRE (7,706 ac) has reached French Pete Creek. Firefighters continue to be successful in holding the fire to the east of FSR 19 (Aufderheide Drive). The PETE FIRE (51 ac) is being monitored by air. The BOX CANYON FIRE (27 ac) is in patrol status.

Crews continue to mop up and secure containment lines on the POTATO HILL FIRE (199 ac) as the fire continues to smolder in heavy fuels within the fire’s perimeter. Smoke may impact Highway 20 visibility at night and early morning.

Given complexity of the current wildfire situation, availability of firefighting resources, limited ability to utilize aircraft when smoke impacts visibility, and safety concerns for working in steep and remote terrain, firefighters are focused on protecting values at risk where they can do so safely and effectively. Conditions can change rapidly. Be ready. Be alert. Act early!

 

According to an infrared (heat detecting) flight last night, the Chetco Bar Fire is 177,301 acres, an increase of 530 acres from the last measurement. It is generally located in Curry County, but enters Josephine County at the north end of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and at the headwaters of Canyon Creek, south of Babyfoot Lake on the east. The Fire is eight miles west of the National Forest's eastern boundary. 

In order to effectively address its current complexity, as of 8:00 pm on Wednesday, September 6, the east side of the Chetco Bar Fire is being managed by Northwest Incident Management Team #13 as the "Chetco East Zone". This provides the opportunity to focus more efficiently on the local operational mission and give more detailed information to communities of Josephine County such as Selma, Kerby, Cave Junction, Takilma and O'Brien. Extensive cooperation and resource sharing will continue among all the fire managers. 

The Chetco East Zone has been divided into Divisions V, W, X, and Y that span from Bear Camp Overlook to the California border. 

Current operational work makes deliberate use of successful firefighting strategies from the Biscuit Fire in 2002. Initiated August 31, as the fire started nudging toward the ridgeline that marks the Curry-Josephine County border, current work includes protecting homes and structures along the Illinois Valley Road and constructing fire containment lines well west of the communities along Hwy 199. 

There are approximately 40 structures along the Illinois River Road within the Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest boundary west of Selma, such as Store Gulch, McCaleb Ranch and Oak Flat. These buildings have been receiving protection from future fire through common "Firewise" strategies such as removing nearby vegetation, firewood, and other flammable items, enhanced with firefighting preparedness techniques such as installing hose lines and sprinklers. Although many of these buildings have received attention in the past, vegetation grows back and improvements were needed. This work is 90% completed, with additional effort planned at Store Gulch today. 

Starting September 1, firefighters have been using dozers to construct fire containment lines along the East Zone. Many of these lines are being reestablished on the lines that succeeded in stopping the 2002 Biscuit Fire. Although pieces will be linked in coming days, initial priority was given to installing segments that were most important to immediately protect communities. Accomplishments include: 

Four miles of dozer line were re-opened three miles west of Hwy 199, west of Cave Junction, from Tennessee Pass to Woodcock Creek. 

Two miles of line were opened north from Rough and Ready Creek, followed by 4 miles south from Rough and Ready Creek to Lone Mtn. These pieces were particularly important because, this far south, the Biscuit Fire didn't cross the ridge into Josephine County, and the current abundant heavy fuel loading could create extreme fire conditions which would potentially threaten O'Brien. 

West of Eight Dollar Mtn, approximately 3 miles of both the 016 and 023 roads were brushed out and improved for driving. Having parallel tracks available ensures one route for travel, even if one line is needed for fire control. 

About 9 miles of dozer line and roads were re-opened north from the Illinois River Road at the Siskiyou Field Institute, around Squaw Mtn and Spalding Pond, to meet Road 4105 north of Sixmile Creek. 

Today: Five dozers will continue to increase and join the segments of containment line. Fallers remove nearby snags to secure these lines, increasing safety for firefighting efforts and effectiveness of fire barriers. Three 20-person hand crews follow the dozers to ensure that smaller brush gets cleaned away. Aircraft operations have been limited due to weather and smoke. If helicopters can safely fly, reconnaissance of the fire's position and assessing protection needs at Pearsoll Peak Lookout and communication sites at Eight Dollar Mtn and Fiddler Mtn are priorities. 

As more containment lines are completed and fire behavior moderates, more direct fireline routes will be sought from safe anchor points, closer to the areas that are currently burning. 

Weather and Fire Behavior: Thunderstorms brought widespread rain that briefly cleared the air Wednesday evening. There's a 25% chance of additional wetting rain Thursday, which drops to a 10% chance Friday. Cool weather is forecast with temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s, and humidity over 50%. Winds from the W-NW will generally not be strong (4-8 mph, with gusts to 12 mph). Fire behavior will moderate, but remains variable because rain did not penetrate and wet all parts of the fire and fine fuels such as leaf litter will dry quickly. Short uphill runs can occur where winds and uphill slopes align. Spotting is not expected. The weather will become hotter and drier starting Saturday and Sunday. 

Smoke: Heavy smoke has affected many parts of Josephine County for many days.Today's smoke level in Grants Pass is forecast as "very unhealthy" indicating that everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Public information about forest fires and smoke conditions is available at http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com. 

Closures and Restrictions: Many areas and activities are closed or restricted due to current and expected fire activity and hazard. Full details are available on https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/5385/ 

In Josephine County, a Level 1 "Ready" Evacuation Notification affects private and BLM land on the west side of Hwy 199 from Hays Hill to the California border. This action is intended to raise awareness of fire in the vicinity and get people thinking about necessary steps they'd take if later asked to evacuate. Ten miles along the Illinois River Road from the National Forest boundary two miles west of Selma to Oak Flats is under Level 3 "Go" Evacuation Notification. Residents were advised to leave this area and it is closed to everyone except firefighting personnel. People can view maps of the current Evacuation Notification areas at http://arcg.is/2vWQ2N. By typing their address into the dark blue line, they can see where their home is located in relation to the current Evacuation warnings.


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