DETROIT, Ore. - (Adding Emerson Fire update; now 90 percent contained)
Fire in the wilderness is a natural process, but it can sure change your plans. The 167-acre Whitewater Fire has been actively burning a few miles from Jefferson Park in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area for a week, and more closures were being put in place Monday, including a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Fire managers closed all trails into Jefferson Park, beginning at 6 a.m.
“We understand it is inconvenient, but our priority is to protect public safety,” Detroit District Ranger Grady McMahan said in a news release Sunday.
An 11-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail (Trail #2000) also was closed, north of its junction with the Woodpecker Trail and south of Breitenbush Lake.
The weather forecast calls for unusually hot, dry and unstable weather conditions in the area this coming week. The hotter weather is expected to increase fire behavior, which would pose a safety risk to hikers in the Jefferson Park area.
“The purpose of this closure is to protect the welfare of firefighters and the public,” McMahan said. “It was a difficult decision, but one we felt compelled to make given the weather forecast for the coming week.”
Since Saturday, heavy equipment has started removing brush and small trees along the Forest Service Road 2243-400 system (Whitewater Creek Road). Brush, limbs and trees are being cut, chipped and stacked in order to create control lines by reducing fuels along the road system outside the wilderness. Fire managers aim to ensure protection of Forest Service land and private land holdings.
The Type 3 team handed off management of the fire to a Type 2 Incident Management Team on Monday. A new fire camp has been established at the Hoodoo Ski Area. Motorists are advised to reduce speeds and use caution when traveling on Highway 22 due to the high volume of fire traffic.
Resources on the Whitewater Fire include:
- Three 20-person Type 2 initial attack hand crews
- Two heavy and one medium helicopters
- Five masticators
- Three water tenders
- About 125 people are engaged in the firefighting effort.
The previous trail closures remain in place. The closed trails are:
- Whitewater Trail #3429 is closed from its origin to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail #2000.
- Cheat Creek Trail #3441 is closed from its origin to the junction with the Triangulation Tr. #3373.
- Triangulation Trail #3373 is closed from its junction with trail #3374 (near Triangulation Peak) to the terminus at Whitewater Trail #3429.
- Crag Trail #3364 from its origin to the terminus at the Triangulation Trail #3373.
The following trail closures will be in place starting Monday at 6:00 a.m.
· Pacific Crest Trail (#2000) north of Woodpecker Trail (#3442) to Breitenbush Lake
· South Breitenbush Trail (#3375) east of Bear Point Trail (#3342) up to the PCT (#2000)
In addition, Forest Service Road 2243 (off of Highway 22) is closed at the Cheat Creek Trailhead to avoid potential conflicts with fire traffic. The trails and road will remain closed to protect public and fire fighter safety until further notice.
For current updates visit https://go.usa.gov/xRnz7, or
Inciweb at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5420/
Follow the news on Twitter and Facebook @Willamettenf
Meanwhile, last week's 10,527-acre Emerson Fire northeast of Madras is now 90 percent contained, officials said, as crews still looking for and mopping up a few interior hot spots.
They are two of several wildfires burning around Oregon as a week of potential record heat arrives, including the 625-acre Blanket Creek Fire in southwest Oregon, the 2,410-acre Chetco Bar Fire in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and the nearly month-old, 74-acre Indian Creek Fire in the Mark Hatfield Wilderness on the Mt. Hood National Forest.
See the latest at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/state/38/