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Patton Meadow fire containment improves, Devil’s Knob holds at 25%

Courtesy photo | A firefighter digs out hot spots within the Poole Creek fire perimeter.

Containment improved Sunday on the Patton Meadow fire, with infrared cameras confirming that fire is “out cold” 100 feet into the fire perimeter on the east side and southeast corner of the 8,947-acre fire area 10 miles west of Lakeview.

Firefighters monitored for spot fires and addressed residual heat on the west and north edges with mop up activities Monday, according to a daily update from the Fox complex incident management team. Resources deployed on well-contained areas of the fire will transition north to monitor hot spots left by burnout operations.

Wind from the south and southwest was expected to bring smoke from California into the region Monday.

Containment on the 23,575-acre Devil’s Knob complex held steady from the previous day at 25%, after crews battled an increase in fire activity in parts of the Smith and Big Hamlin fires Sunday afternoon.

Smoke impeded air operations, but helped to cool temperatures in the area as crews added containment lines ahead of active fire, according to a daily update from Great Basin incident management Team 2.

Firefighters engaged the eastern flank Monday, where fire breached control lines and prompted evacuation notices for the Ash Creek area. Residents were under a Level 2, “Get set” notice Monday.

Since the Skyline Ridge complex reached 93% containment Aug. 19, crews have patrolled lines, retrieved equipment no longer needed in the field, continued mop-up activities and worked on fireline suppression repair projects, said Kyle Reed, fire prevention and public information officer for the Douglas Forest Protective Association.

The complex burned about 5,760 acres five miles southeast of Canyonville, west of the Devil’s Knob complex.

Mop up — the process of extinguishing smoking and smoldering material in the fire area with the potential to respark — is performed on every fire, with differing standards depending on fire size, fuels, weather and risk of flare-up, Reed said. Crews focus mop up on the first 300 feet deep into the fire perimeter and interior pockets that didn’t burn cleanly, he said.

“It’s the nitty gritty, dirty work of fire fighting,” Reed said. “It’s monotonous, a lot of times it’s down on your hands and knees crawling, feeling, smelling and looking for that smoke and extinguishing those stump holes or logs or whatever may be still smoldering or burning near the fire lines.”

Fire line suppression repair projects prioritize erosion control — crews dig water channels to route surface water toward the “green,” unburnt side of the fire area, allowing sediment to settle while protecting stream clarity and aquatic life, Reed said. Projects also include repairing fences and gates damaged by fire suppression activities.

Land owners and public land management agencies are responsible for work beyond standard repairs, such as seeding or moving vegetation, Reed said.

During the peak of fire season, when national wildland fire preparedness levels reach their highest, regional emergency managers have control over resource distribution based on priority, Reed said. The Skyline Ridge complex was deemed a high priority early on, he said, drawing 1,200 firefighters at the fire’s peak and sufficient resources to cover critical work before crews were released or deployed to other fires.

As of Monday, about 160 firefighters remained on scene and emergency managers planned to reduce operations to a smaller organizational format by Thursday, with one to two crews and a few engines remaining to patrol the area, Reed said.