McKENZIE BRIDGE, Ore. - (Update: Hwy. 126 reopens after closure due to spot fire but new evacuations)
The nearly 9,000-acre Separation Fire on the Willamette National Forest crossed state Highway 242 (the Old McKenzie Pass Highway) in strong winds Monday and on Tuesday prompted new evacuations near McKenzie Bridge, while a spot fire led to closure for a few hours of Oregon Highway 126E in the area.
The highway was closed at midday for about 20 miles, between the junction with U.S. Highway 20 and the junction with Highway 242, which has been closed for days due to the Milli Fire and others in the area.
ODOT cited “a spot fire and wildfire suppression activities” in Tuesday’s closure and said travelers should avoid the area or us an alternate route. An update around 6 p.m. said Highway 126 had been reopened.
However, Lane County authorities late Tuesday issued a Level 3 evacuation order for areas east of the Hwy. 242-126 junction, including Belknap Hot Springs and campgrounds in the area of the Clearlake Cutoff Road. McKenzie Valley residents and visitors along Hwy. 126 east between mileposts 49 and 53 were put on a Level 2 “Be Set” evacuation notice and other areas were under a Level 1 “Be Ready” advisory.
Here's Tuesday's update on the numerous fires burning on the Willamette National Forest:
A Red Flag Warning for significant instability remains in place through today. High clouds this morning, that help to dampen fire activity, are expected to scatter in the afternoon increasing the possibility of active to very active fire behavior later today.
The Whitewater Fire continues to produce smoke and haze impacting Breitenbush and Detroit. Smoke from the Jones, Rebel and Horse Creek Complex fires continues to impact the communities of Oakridge and Mckenzie Bridge.
Wildfires are a No Drone Zone. If you fly, we can’t. Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) areas remain in effect. knowbeforeyoufly.org
Hot temperatures and dry vegetation – it only takes one spark. Do your part. Don’t let a wildfire start.
Approximately 965 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 (360 ac) is burning in steep, inaccessible forest lands and heavy fuels. Crews have been holding the line along Forest Service Road (FSR) 46 (Breitenbush Road) and continue to protect the Breitenbush Hot Springs area. Structure protection efforts around summer homes continues. 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 (10,624 ac) and LITTLE DEVIL FIRE (1,068 ac) are growing toward one another. On the west side of Little Devil firefighters had success using some burnout operations to bring the fire down to an existing road. The Whitewater Fire was quiet on the southern portion, but was intermittently active on the north. Firefighters are shoring up the line on the west flank of the Whitewater Fire using hand tools and masticators. The FRENCH FIRE (2 ac) remains inactive.
Due to the Scorpion and Little Devil Fires, the Breitenbush Hot Springs Area including Humbug and Breitenbush
Campgrounds, the Fox Creek and Cleator Bend Group Sites, and the Short Mountain and Bald Butte Trailheads is in a Level 2 (Set) evacuation status. 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 Potato Hill, Rebel, & Horse Creek Complex on
for updates on the following fires
The HORSE CREEK COMPLEX (13,469 combined acres) includes the Avenue Fire, located southeast of McKenzie Bridge, and nearby wilderness fires Olallie Lookout, Separation, and Roney Fires. Highway 242 is closed between McKenzie Bridge and Sisters. Visit http://tripcheck.com or call 511 for more information.
The SEPARATION FIRE (8,958 ac) burning on the western slopes of South Sister mountain, was very active yesterday. Strong winds pushed the fire north and across Highway 242 in the vicinity of Camp Melakwa. A significant smoke column on the radar late last night indicated the fire continued to grow overnight. Flames from the Separation Fire and the bordering Nash Fire were visible on the Mt. Bachelor webcam into the early morning hours. Firefighters will continue to work preparing lines to protect the values along Highway 242 and the McKenzie Bridge area. Visit http://firewise.org for Firewise tips to help protect your home from wildfire.
The AVENUE FIRE (1,196 ac) burned actively Monday morning putting up a short-lived column that spread ash into the community of McKenzie Bridge. Additional structure protection crews will be committed to the McKenzie Bridge area today. Firefighters working with the local fire district will prepare structure protection plans for the area. Firefighters will also be prepping the Horse Creek and East King roads.
Firefighters are monitoring the OLALLIE LOOKOUT FIRE (832 ac) and RONEY FIRE (2,483 ac) by air and MODIS Thermal Satellite.
Due to the Avenue Fire, the communities of Rainbow, McKenzie Bridge, and Belknap Springs as well as residents along East King Drive and North Bank Road and surrounding areas are in Level 1 (Ready) evacuation status. Sign up for Lane County Emergency Alerts at lanecounty.org/prepare or call the Lane County Sheriff’s Office for more info at 541-682-4150.
REBEL FIRE (7,432 ac) firefighters continue to be successful in holding the fire to the east of FSR 19 (Aufderheide Drive), Firefighters continue to monitor and patrol the BOX CANYON FIRE (27 ac) and PETE FIRE (51 ac).
Crews continue mopping up operations within the perimeter of the POTATO HILL FIRE (199 ac), as the fire continues to smolder in heavy fuels. 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!