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Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Fire sparks hiker evacuations

Whitewater Fire threatens 100 homes in Breitenbush

(Adding Friday morning update)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Officials say a wildfire east of Salem in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness has prompted hiker evacuations and road and trail closures.

The Linn County Sheriff's Office says starting Friday morning deputies will help the U.S. Forest Service with road closures and evacuations due to a fire that grew Thursday to more than 7 square miles (4,800 acres).

Linn County search and rescue teams will evacuate hikers and campers in the area of Highway 22 from Whitewater Road to Marion Lakes Road.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center, the fire is zero percent contained and is threatening 100 homes in the Breitenbush community.

More information: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5420/

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Here's Friday morning's Whitewater Fire update:

Yesterday's Fire Growth-The fire grew minimally yesterday due to an inversion, which kept fire activity low. The fire has backed down into the headwaters of the Breitenbush River and the Woodpecker drainage. Aircraft were unable to fly because of heavy smoke and limited visibility.  
 
Location-The Whitewater Fire is actively burning in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and adjacent forest lands, approximately 13 miles east of Detroit, Oregon. The Incident Command Post, located at the Hoodoo Ski Resort, is closed to non-fire traffic.
 
Today's Operations- Crews and equipment will continue to working on brushing road systems and building hand and dozer fire lines outside of the wilderness. These operations are occurring on the western and southern portions of the fire. If the inversion lifts today, helicopters will support the firefighting efforts. As a precaution, fire crews are conducting an initial assessment of structures in the Breitenbush area to prioritize the creation of defensible space. 
 
Weather and Fire Behavior- Today's temperatures will be slightly cooler, but fire activity is predicted to increase if the inversion lifts. Forecasters expect the inversion to lift around noon and winds to shift to the west. Afternoon westerly ridge and slope winds may align with drainages, ridges and slopes, and produce areas of active to extreme fire behavior. Potential fire behavior could include torching and crown fire activity. 
 
Road and Trail Closures-The fire team's first priority is public and firefighter safety. The Willamette National Forest has closed all trail access points into Jefferson Park inside the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, including an 11-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. A more extensive area closure in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness and the surrounding forest lands is being developed.

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