One week after two fires exploded to life northwest of Bend and eventually merged to burn nearly 7,000 acres, the Two Bulls Fire was declared fully contained Saturday, officials said.
An Oregon Department of Forestry team transfered command of fire management to a Type 3 team working out of the Sisters unit of the ODF at 4 p.m. Saturday, the time at which the fire was declared 100 percent contained.
Five crews and support totaling 100 personnel remained on the lines Saturday, along with two helicopters, nine engines, two bulldozers and two water tenders.
The transition team will work to extinguish any remaining smokes and recover equipment. The local ODF fire staff will patrol the fire and monitor for smokes frequently throughout fire season. If residents spot smoke, they are advised to call 911.
The Skyliners Road area evacuation alert was lifted Friday. No evacuation levels remain in effect.
Forest Service Roads 4601, 4602, 4603, and 4606 remain closed. The Phil's Trail Mountain bike area is open.
The Two Bulls Fire burned 6,908 acres and its firefighting cost has reached $5.7 million.
For questions or information about the Two Bulls Fire, call (541) 549-2731.
In the final message from Two Bulls Fire officials read: "Thank you Bend area community, the local Joint Information Center (JIC) agencies (the City of Bend Fire Department, City of Bend Communication and Media Department, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, Deschutes County Public Communications Office, the American Red Cross Oregon Mountain River Chapter, and U.S. Forest Service) for your support, hospitality, and understanding during the #TwoBullsFire. We’re hoping not to have any, but if there are future large fires, please monitor the blog for updates.
"To help thank and protect the firefighters, protect your community, and protect your homes, get FireFree. FireFree can help you create a fire-resistant zone around your home!
"Thanks again and have a great summer!"
Early Friday afternoon, the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office lifted the Level 1 pre-evacuation advisory for about 50 homes near Skyliners Road west of Bend where residents were urged to flee last Saturday and were out of the area for two days.
County Emergency Services Manager Sgt. Nathan Garibay noted that are still some U.S. Forest Service Road closures in place, and urged residents to visit the Central Oregon Fire Information blog at http://www.centraloregonfireinfo.blogspot.com for more information on the changes.
Garibay added, "The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office would like to thank the Oregon Department of Forestry, Deschutes National Forest and all of the other agencies involved in the response and management of the Two Bulls Fire."
"We would further like to thank the citizens and visitors of Deschutes County for their overwhelming support and patience throughout this incident," he said.
Here's the Friday morning fire update:
"As firefighters expand the mop-up zone around the fire, the current Incident Management Team prepares to transition command of the Two Bulls Fire back to local control forces.
"This transition time is an organized process to account for equipment, package documentation, and send excess resources home for needed rest and preparation for future events. The “hand-off” to local forces should occur on Saturday.
"Many local residents reported smoke plumes Thursday. Gusty winds created swirls of ash which mimicked smoke columns. Residents can be assured that firefighters are patrolling in these areas and continue mopping up to create a 300-500 foot buffer zone around the fire perimeter.
"State Forester Doug Decker and Fire Protection Division Chief Nancy Hirsch visited firefighters at camp Friday. They also made a visit to the Joint Information Center which coordinated fire information among all involved agencies and kept the local community informed.
Decker commented, “I was pleased to see and impressed by the immediate and direct action on the fire, both during initial attack and in the days that followed. "
"Those combined efforts, in the face of some very challenging fuels and burning conditions, stopped the fire. I was also struck by the amazing outpouring of community support. It really made a difference for the team and was an expression of the high level of cooperation that has occurred throughout this incident.”
As evacuation alerts are reduced or end, the U.S. Forest Service has reopened much of the closed area in the woods west of Bend -- including most of the popular Phil's Trail mountain biking area.
The "current fire information" on the Thursday morning update from the Central Oregon Fire Information Center painted a picture of how things looked, starting the sixth day of the battle:
"More than 630 firefighters rolled out of the Two Bulls Fire Camp this morning, rumbling to their fireline assignments in crew-carrying vans, pickup trucks, fire engines and water tenders.
"The men and women assigned to fight the fire had gotten out of their tents at 4:30 a.m., breakfasted on chorizo sausage, fried potatoes, beans, tortillas and salsa, swallowed countless gallons of coffee, juice and milk, and reported to morning briefing at 5:30.
"At the briefing, the firefighters crowded around a small stage where a large map of the fire was stapled to a sheet of plywood, and heard the day shift operations chief outline their work objectives.
"Most of the firefighters would be spending their day on the Two Bulls Fire's west and southwest flanks. Their mission was to extinguish every lick of flame, every smoke within 300 feet of the fireline – and then go farther.
"The mission to steadily increase the dead-out ring of black around the fire decreases the chance that the fire could escape, should some places inside the heart of the Two Bulls Fire rekindle during the afternoon when strong winds (gusts to 25 mph) are expected.
Operations Section Chief Joe Hessel said Wednesday's day-shift crews were “whole-hog into mop-up,” the tedious process of completely extinguishing the fire, now extending 300 feet and farther in from the east flank fire line, 150 to 300 feet on the west and south sides, and 100-200 feet inside the north line.
Hoses now encircle the blaze – which began as two fires Saturday afternoon, now deemed “suspicious” – and were being used by the more than 160 night-crew firefighters as they keep putting out every flaming log or smoking stump.
More than 230 firefighters were released from the fire Wednesday, and more overnight, leaving 638 personnel Thursday using three helicopters, 46 inches, 11 bulldozers and 15 water tenders.
In less than a week, the estimated suppression cost has climbed to about $4.3 million.
While the reward fund money flowed in for whoever provides information to solve the possible arson, totaling $26,500 by late Wednesday, the widening fire lines have allowed for dropping evacuation alert levels, to Level 1 starting Thursday for previously evacuated Skyliners Road homes west of Bend, and no more Level 1 (or any) alerts for close to 2,000 homes on Bend’s Westside.