South Obenchain fire 70% contained
Cooler weather and rain later this week could give firefighters the upper hand in their battle against blazes across Southern Oregon.
The South Obenchain fire burning near Butte Falls was 32,671 acres and 70% contained Tuesday as crews of 856 personnel worked to hold fire lines and start mopping up, according to Inciweb. Fire officials expect to reach full containment on the South Obenchain fire by Wednesday, Sept. 30.
As of Tuesday morning, all perimeters were in mop-up and patrol status, and crews were focusing their attention on the northern perimeter of the fire and watching for hot spots.
A cold front is expected to bring breezy weather, clouds and greater humidity Wednesday, with a chance of rain Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and a chance of showers Friday, according to fire officials.
The showers were forecast to drop about a tenth of an inch of rain over the fire area by Friday afternoon.
Only residences immediately adjacent to the fire perimeter remain under Level 3 “Go” evacuation levels, with all others downgraded to Level 2 “Be Set” evacuation levels.
Crews battling the fire include one Type 1 hand crew, one Type 2 initial attack crew, 26 Type 2 crews, one light helicopter, two medium helicopters, 37 engines, 10 dozers, 21 water tenders and 4 skidgens.
The South Obenchain fire is one of 10 fires around the state that the Oregon Department of Forestry continues to “closely monitor,” according to an ODF press release issued Tuesday.
About 1 million acres have burned in Oregon, which is close to double the state’s 10-year average of 557,811 acres, according to ODF. The fires drew more than 7,500 personnel, plus resources from 39 states and multiple Canadian provinces.
Seven of the 17 major fires that burned across Oregon earlier this month are now 100% lined and contained or nearly contained.
Other major fires in Southern Oregon being monitored by ODF include:
The fire complex burning near Cave Junction and in Northern California was at 148,677 acres and 22% contained, according to Inciweb.
Crews working the fire were bracing for potential critical fire weather including low relative humidity and gusty winds Wednesday, but enough progress was made to downgrade some evacuation levels Tuesday in Josephine County.
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office reduced evacuations in the O’Brien area — with the town’s Level 2 “Be Set” evacuation warning downgraded to Level 1 “Be Ready.” Level 3 “Go” evacuations were downgraded to Level 2 “Be Set” Tuesday afternoon for residences in the area of Wood Creek and Shepherd Hill roads.
Some 1,243 personnel were working the fire, with crews in the north zone focused on securing fire lines from Highway 199 into the Illinois Valley — particularly along the northwest flank of the fire near structures and communities. In the southern zone, crews continued to mop up, with priority focused on protecting threatened areas in the Northern California communities of Happy Camp, Indian Creek and Thompson Creek.
The fire burning within a mile of Diamond Lake Resort was at 9,916 acres and 26% contained Tuesday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Evacuation levels near Diamond Lake were reduced Tuesday afternoon from Level 3 “Go” to Level 2 “Be Set,” and Highway 138E was reopened; however, Umpqua National Forest was still closed by order of the U.S. Forest Service.
Crews of 196 personnel focused Tuesday on constructing and securing fire lines along the southern and western edges of the blaze, along with defending structures and a communications tower in the Cinnamon Butte area.
Crews expect the fire to be fully contained by Wednesday, Sept. 30.
Two Four Two fire
The fire burning about a mile northwest of Chiloquin was at 14,473 acres and 89% contained Tuesday, according to the latest Inciweb data.
An ODF Type 2 incident command team will hand off the fire to a Type 4 team at 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Inciweb. The new crews will continue mop-up and suppression efforts, and expect the fire to be 100% contained by the end of the day Friday.
Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.