The strong and gusty Chinook winds over the Memorial Day weekend pushed growth of the Oregon Lakes Fire to an estimated 28,771 acres. The vast majority of the new fire growth was in dry flashy fuels west of the fire as shown in red on the progression map. The fire has burned through stringers of black spruce surrounded by hardwoods, but the fire activity has been mainly an understory burn. Since the wind event began on Saturday, the fire has grown 11,899 acres.
Helicopters, fire bosses and retardant ships coordinated from above by an aerial supervisor known as “Air Attack” worked and were successful yesterday protecting military towers just north of the military training lands. The eight miles of fireline that fire crews and a water equipped dozer secured last week north of impact area held along the winter road throughout this wind event. By Memorial Day, wind speeds had decreased and wind direction had shifted during parts of the day, at one point becoming quite calm according to the aerial supervisor.
Having secured the 8 miles of fireline last week, fire managers and representatives from state and federal agencies decided to redirect firefighters from building and defending firelines north of the impact zone to reduce risk to firefighters. Military debris, some of which is dangerous, remains in and near the impact area, which has been in use for more than 50 years. Firefighter safety is the top priority.
Crews from the Oregon Lakes Fire have been working in the Whitestone Farms, Southbank and Richardson Clearwater River communities for the past four days. The crews providing structure protection now are the same crews that protected structures from the Mississippi Fire in 2013. Their local experience is a big advantage and will allow field operations to be conducted efficiently. Fire is not currently threatening the communities, but equipment has been installed and tested to help residents and property owners be prepared if fire becomes more active and moves north.
Categories: AK Fire Info