SISTERS, Ore. - (Update: Evacuation notices dropped in Sisters area, still in place for Nash Fire)
Another big sign of progress Tuesday evening on the 22,500-acre Milli Fire: All evacuation levels have been dropped after nearly three weeks of warnings and alerts that began Aug. 16 with a Level 1 pre-evacuation alert. But pre-evacuation alerts remain in place to the south, near the Nash Fire.
Here’s the announcement from Deschutes County sheriff’s Sgt. Nathan Garibay, the county’s emergency services manager:
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office has continued to coordinate with fire managers on the Milli Fire. After discussion with the incident management team, the Sisters Ranger District, and Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District; the Sheriff's Office will drop all evacuation notices around the Milli fire at 6 AM on Wednesday, September 6th.
This does not affect any area closures implemented by the Deschutes National Forest.
Pre-Evacuation Notices are still in effect for the Elk Lake and Lava Lake area due to the Nash Fire. These notices include:
Level 2 (Set) Notice:
Areas surrounding Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake including: Elk Lake Resort, Elk Lake CG, Point CG, Little Fawn CG, Mallard Marsh CG, Sunset View Day Use Area, Beach Day Use Area, and Quinn Meadows Horse Camp.
Level 2: Means "GET SET" to evacuate. You must prepare to leave at a moment's notice. This level indicates there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntary relocate to a shelter or with family and friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Residents MAY have time to gather necessary items, but doing so is at their own risk. This may be the only notice you receive. Emergency services cannot guarantee that they will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate. Area media services will be asked to broadcast periodic updates.
Level 1 (Ready) Notice:
Areas surrounding Lava Lake including: Areas surrounding Lava Lake and Little Lava Lake including: Lave Lake Resort, Lave Lake CG, and Little Lava Lake CG
Level 1: Means "BE READY" for potential evacuation. Residents should be aware of the danger that exists in their area, monitor emergency services websites and local media outlets for information. This is the time for preparation and precautionary movements of persons with special needs, mobile property and (under certain circumstances) pets and livestock. If conditions worsen, emergency services personnel may contact you via an emergency notification system.
The 22,527-acre Milli Fire west of Sisters is still at 60 percent containment, officials said Tuesday, two days after the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office lowered the evacuation alert level for the Crossroads subdivision and surrounding areas from Level 2 -- to be ready to leave at a moment's notice -- to a less-urgent Level 1 pre-evacuation notice.
Crews are making progress on the Milli Fire burning west of Sisters. They credit favorable wind conditions and a winning strategy called the catcher's mitt.
They knew the fire would head north toward homes and other structures, so they set up a trap for the fire to head into -- and it did.
"They blacklined that whole north side (and) east side to stop the fire because they did expect it to go north toward the communities, toward the private property," Milli Fire information officer Stacy Lacey said. "So they built that catcher's mitt, and the fire did exactly what they wanted. It went into that catcher's mitt, and it stopped it."
A blackline is a condition in which no combustible fuels remain between the fireline and the main fire.
As the Milli Fire nears full containment, fire managers stationed in Sisters will be moving to the nearby Whitewater Fire, while a new team will come in to battle the still-spreading Nash Fire.
Here's the Tuesday morning update on the Milli Fire:
Predicted east/northeast winds reduced heavy smoke over the fire yesterday afternoon. The increased visibility allowed firefighters on the ground to utilize air support on hot spots near the private lands tree plantation and in the lava flows. Fire managers were able to see the entire incident from the air. The winds were a good test of containment lines which all held.
Air Quality: Air quality reported from Air Now http://www.airnow.gov/ is in the “Unhealthy For Sensitive Groups” (UHSG) (orange) range in Sisters. The “UHSG” range is defined as the air quality is unhealthy for people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should reduce prolonged activity or heavy exertion. Information is also available at: oregonsmoke.blogspot.com
Incident Management: Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team 8, with Doug Johnson, Incident Commander, is managing and supporting the firefighters of the Milli Fire. The incident command post (ICP) is located at the Sisters Rodeo Grounds, east of Sisters, Oregon. Management of the fire will be transferred back to the Deschutes National Forest at 6 am tomorrow morning.
Fire Update: The east, southeast, and south flanks of the fire are in patrol status with firefighters mopping up any detected heat to further secure containment lines. Unneeded equipment is being back hauled to the incident command post and to assist on the Nash Fire.
The southwest flank of the fire was pushed by the winds yesterday west to North Matthieu Lake. Helicopter water drops will be utilized to extinguish heat and check any movement in the lava fields. On the west flank, the Lava Camp campground area is in patrol status as the mop up work has been completed. Strong north winds created several small spots within the Lava fields. . Helicopter water drops will be utilized to extinguish any heat.
Cleanup along Hwy 242 continues. Additional work will be required to remove remaining hazards and repair road surfaces. It will be closed until Oregon Department of Transportation has assessed the condition of the road and can ensure it is safe for travel.
Weather: Today’s forecast is partially cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms after 4 pm. Gusty, east ridge-top winds will continue through this morning and then decrease. The forecast above 5,000 ft elevation calls for temperatures 84 – 88 degrees, relative humidity 15 – 19%, and ridgetop winds east 10 – 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph then becoming northeast 5-10 mph with gusts to 15 mph.
A Red Flag Warning (which means critical fire weather conditions exist in the area) remains in effect over Central Oregon for hot, dry, and unstable conditions the remainder of today. The combination of the Red Flag Warning and the consecutive lack of overnight relative humidity recovery could cause any ignition source on dry fuels to start a wildfire. Forest visitors are reminded to stay vigilant and “know before you go”.
Resources: Total personnel assigned to the Milli Fire: 318 personnel, comprised of 1-type 2 initial attack crew, 3-type 2 crews, 3-camp crews, 6-engines, 4-skidgens, 1-heavy helicopter, 1- light helicopter, 2-dozers, 9-water tenders and 149 overhead. Available resources remain limited and are being prioritized within the region and nationally. Resources continue to be shared amongst nearby fires. Additional critical resources have been reordered.
Highway Closures: OR Hwy 242 is closed east of the Cascade Crest to the junction of Forest Road 15. For more information visit www.tripcheck.com
Forest Closures- For further information go to: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/deschutes/alerts-notices
The Sisters Chamber of Commerce would like to invite and remind the public that businesses are open and ready to host visitors. One less spark is one less potential fire.