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Cooler temperature, rain assists firefighters

Courtesy photo | A firefighter checks for residual heat using a technique called “cold trailing.”

Cooler weather, light winds and improved visibility allowed firefighters to lay hose and begin mop up near roads and containment lines on the south flank of the 86,170-acre Cougar Peak fire Saturday.

The fire is burning with no containment on the Lakeview Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

A structural damage assessment by the Oregon State Fire Marshal revealed four burned structures and six burned outbuildings Saturday — believed to be a complete accounting of all structures affected by the Cougar Peak fire, according to the incident management Blue Team. Further assessments or a change in fire behavior may alter the total number of impacted structures.

The fire’s western flank burned through minimally accessible terrain, featuring “drought-weakened trees and powder dry soil,” according to the Sunday morning update.

Crews sought opportunities to connect the west side of the fire to road systems to establish indirect containment lines and prepare for strategic firing operations. Short portions of line on the east side were slated for completion Sunday, tying together lines around the fire’s eastern edge.

On the north edge, most sagebrush and other shrubbery in the area were consumed during a severe wind event, leaving little heat behind.

“Firefighters are cold trailing (feeling with the hand for heat) to reduce impacts to remaining vegetation on these key grazing lands and further the containment on this portion of the fire,” the update said.

The cause of the Cougar Peak fire is undetermined.

A Level 2 “Be Set” advisory was downgraded to Level 1 “Be Ready” status for some Tiller residents near the Devil’s Knob Complex on Saturday. The advisory pertains to homes on South Umpqua Road starting at Jackson Creek Road, east to Dumont Creek campground.

Diminished fire activity was expected to assist firefighters with operational goals on the Rough Patch Complex (44,434 acres, 35% contained) and Jack fire (23,990 acres, 55% contained) through the weekend.

“With recent rain across a wide swath of the fire and the resulting cloud cover remaining, fire activity decreased and opened a window for firefighters to directly engage the fire,” Great Basin Team 2 reported Saturday.

Within the complex, crews focused on strengthening containment lines on the south and east sides of the Little Bend fire, assessing the east edge of the Jack fire for direct control tactics and containing the southeast side of the Buckhead fire.