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South Cascade, Douglas forest districts hit hard by wildfires

Courtesy photo | Multiple agencies responded to a quarter-acre vegetation fire 12 miles west of Winston near Iverson Park Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021.

The Oregon Department of Forestry reported more than 50 major active fires burning across the state this past week, with the majority in the South Cascade and Douglas forest districts.

Grants Pass-based firefighters in the Southwest Oregon district mopped up a three-quarter-acre fire east of Cave Junction Wednesday, following an aggressive initial attack that stopped fire growth within two hours.

Fires in the Skyline Ridge Complex approached the northwest corner of the Southwest district Friday, according to an ODF fire map.

Mop up and snag identification continued Sunday at the Poole Creek fire scene in the Skyline Ridge Complex, which reached 34% containment across the 5,765-acre fire area. Three people have been injured.

In the coming days, nearby residents can expect to see a red glow from the fire’s interior during dark hours, with potentially visible flare ups and smoke.

Multiple agencies on Saturday responded to a quarter-acre vegetation fire 12 miles west of Winston near Iverson Park.

Two helicopters slowed the spread of fire from above while ground crews installed hose and constructed perimeter containment lines, stopping the fire at one acre, according to the Douglas Forest Protective Association.

Crews focused on fully extinguishing smoking material Sunday. No homes were threatened during this incident. The cause of the Iverson Park fire is under investigation.

DFPA will reduce the Industrial Fire Precaution Level to III on all DFPA-protected lands effective Monday. Industrial operators may return to work in the Douglas district within specified hours of operation. Public use restrictions have not changed.

A detailed list of activities restricted under IFPL III can be found at oregon.gov/odf/fire/documents/industrial-fire-precaution-levels.pdf.

Firefighters strengthened containment lines around the Chaos fire in the 12,271-acre Rough Patch Complex northeast of Glide Saturday, preventing fire growth to the west or south. Crews focused Sunday on mop up, direct attack in accessible areas and indirect attack in other areas determined by topography, weather and fuels, according to the Great Basin Incident Management Team.

The team assumed command of the complex and 23,646-acre Jack fire Sunday morning, relieving Northwest Incident Management Team 13.

Across the fire zones within the complex, crews reinforced about 70 miles of contingency line, suppressed fires that breached containment lines and engaged spot fires Sunday.

A temperature inversion Saturday impeded air operations, with limited visibility due to smoke held near the surface.

The Devil’s Knob Complex burned at 7,766 acres with 13% containment Sunday. Once firefighters secured the southern part of the complex, resources shifted to the central and northern zones to priority fires, including the Smith, Mule Creek and Big Hamlin fires.

Nineteen of the original 52 lightning-caused fires are contained, controlled or out, according to Northwest Incident Management Team 8.

An unstaffed sprinkler system on the fire’s eastern flank proved effective in areas too hazardous for firefighters to access.

Overnight fire crews bolstered containment lines on the west and south edges of the 5,406-acre Patton Meadow fire in the Fox Complex near Lakeview, which held within lines due to the absence of an expected wind shift from the northeast.

The Patton Meadow fire prompted Gov. Kate Brown to invoke the Emergency Conflagration Act on Friday, sending resources from the Office of the State Fire Marshal to assist.

Steep and rocky terrain on the northern edge challenged direct attack efforts and crews constructed contingency lines further north in preparation for fire spread. Small burnout operations were planned for the south side.

The 824-acre Willow Valley fire 16 miles south of Bonanza held at 35% containment with no notable growth Sunday.

Oregon State Fire Marshal structural task forces prepared for a weather shift to push the fire east, with winds expected from the West and gusts of 10 to 20 mph. Crews assessed and prepared properties for defensible space operations.