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Sunday red flag warning precedes rain in forecast

Courtesy photo | Excavators arrived to repair more than 300 miles of fire line constructed during active fire suppression around and inside the Devil’s Knob Complex, to minimize potential for soil erosion in wetter months and encourage regrowth next spring.

A red flag warning was issued for Sunday afternoon for the area near the 91,730-acre Cougar Peak fire 15 miles northwest of Lakeview, accompanied by increased potential for fire spread and new fire starts.

A storm is expected Monday, bringing cooler temperatures and a chance of precipitation over the region’s major fires.

Crews progressed on containment lines down the slope of Cougar Peak and identified preliminary suppression repair needs in the western section of the fire Friday, according to the incident management team.

Equipment backhaul and road clearing began in the eastern area and crews felled hazardous trees along transportation corridors in the west and northwest sections Saturday.

Fire activity increased on the Smith fire Friday under high temperature and low relative humidity, drawing helicopters to cool hot spots south of Hemlock Lake and air monitoring in heavy timber west of the Quartz Creek drainage.

The Palomar Interagency Hotshot Crew secured and monitored containment lines on hot spots north of the Smith fire and east of the Jack fire.

Throughout the weekend, firefighters continued suppression work on the Smith, Big Hamlin and 23 fires in the Devil’s Knob Complex ahead of rain forecast for Monday evening.

With air quality consistently reported as “good” around the complex, smoke outlook forecasts have ceased.

Repair work continued on more than 300 miles of dozer lines and hand-dug fire lines, to minimize soil erosion in wetter months and encourage regrowth next spring, according to the incident management team.

“Fire crews are also continuing chipping operations around all fire perimeters to dispose of the large accumulations of woody debris, turning it into a thin layer of mulch next to roadsides where it will assist in soil stabilization,” Saturday’s report said.

Smoke emitted from an uncontained fire perimeter on the northern flank of the Smith fire and hot spots south of Hemlock Lake Saturday.

Direct attack and helicopter water drops successfully controlled hot spots in the north section of the 50,426-acre Rough Patch Complex Friday and Saturday, according to Northwest Incident Management Team 7. Crews constructed drainage diversions in preparation for wet weather.

The Jack fire was 24,165 acres and 61% contained Sunday. Weather was expected to cool, but remain dry with gusting southwest winds.

Monday’s storm could bring one-half-of-an-inch to an inch of rain to fire areas, with a chance of light snow above 5,000 feet elevation.