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'Happy Dog Fire' becomes more active in Umpqua North Complex

Smoke east of Glide along Highway 138E on Monday, August 21, 2017. (InciWeb)

GLIDE, Ore. -- The Umpqua North Complex of wildfires has now burned an estimated 23,501 acres based on an infrared flight on Aug. 29. Containment remains at 7 percent.

A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Glide Community Center (20062 N. Umpqua Highway). Agency representatives and fire managers from the Alaska Team will present current fire information and answer questions. Members from the incoming California Team will also be attending.

The Level 3 “Go” Evacuation Notice for the Dry Creek and Illahee areas has been lowered to Level 2, “Get Set”, which went into effective at noon, Aug. 29.

Highway 138 East is now open to mile marker 47 but remains closed to mile marker 54 by Soda Springs due to falling rocks and burning snags that pose a threat to public safety. Residents who return to those areas will likely see active fire at times and must be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice if the evacuation level is increased.

The Happy Dog Fire became more active Tuesday, advancing southeast into the Rattle and North Fork fire burn scars. It now poses the biggest threat in the complex as it moves east along Highway 138 East on the north and south sides. The fire is approximately 2 miles southwest and 3 miles northwest of Soda Springs; 2.5 miles southwest of Slide Creek; 3.5 miles west of Fish Creek Power Plant; and 5 miles west of Toketee Ranger Station. Crews are focusing on building indirect control lines on both sides of Hwy 138 E to prevent it from encroaching on the highway corridor.

On the north side of the highway, firefighters are working to tie an indirect line from the PacifiCorp powerline into a burn operation at Illahee Flats and strategic firing operations will be employed to keep the fire from encroaching on the highway. Farther north, crews continue to brush out Forest Road 38 to use as a containment line on the northwest side of the Ragged Ridge Fire while also opening up Forest Road 3850 to use as a control line. Containment lines on the lower west side of the Happy Dog Fire are holding and firefighters have made good progress mopping up and will continue to deepen those lines.

South of the highway, firefighters continue working on alternate lines to prevent the fire’s spread over Oak Nob toward the highway. Crews are advancing indirect line south along Forest Road 28 to keep the fire west of the powerline. Further south, firefighters are advancing line along forest roads east of FR 28 to keep the Brokentooth Fire from advancing while also working to hold and mop up a slopover that crossed the FR 28.

On the west side of the complex, crews continue to shore up containment lines on the Fall Creek Fire following burnout operations, removing hazard trees and burning fuels between the fire perimeter and burnout lines. Containment lines have been secured on the west side of the fire. Firefighters are patrolling the east side of the fire for spot fires that were detected on Tuesday.

Dense smoke continues to impede containment efforts and there have been no opportunities for air support due to poor visibility, officials say.

There are currently 21 crews and 1,022 people battling the fires in the Umpqua North Complex. This includes 6 helicopters, 80 engines, 17 dozers, 21 water tenders, 6 masticators and 5 skidgens.

Weather conditions: Temperatures will cool slightly today, with highs in the upper 70s and low 80s and relative humidity in the 30-40 percent range. A warming and drying trend will begin on Thursday with the forecast calling for triple-digit temperatures Saturday and Sunday with relative humidity in the teens.

Command Change: California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 led by Incident Commander Jay Kurth will be replacing the Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team as of 7 a.m. Friday morning.

Closure Notices: In addition to the road closure on Hwy 138 E from Mile Markers 47 to 54 and road shoulders and pullouts between Mile Markers 31 to 35 are also closed to provide for public and firefighter safety. For the latest road closure information, call the Oregon Department of Transportation at 511 or go to https://tripcheck.com/Pages/RCMap.asp#. The Umpqua National Forest remains closed in areas of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. The North Umpqua River remains closed to boaters and anglers from Boulder Flat Raft Launch to Susan Creek Campground due to falling trees and rolling debris except for a short stretch of river near the Steamboat Inn that is open to fishing. For more information on forest closures see Public Notices at http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/Umpqua/alerts-notices.

Evacuation Notices: No changes from Sunday August 20, 2017

Level 1 Evacuation Notice – “Get Ready” (threat in the area) – the Clearwater area, along Highway 138 East from Mile Marker 53 to Mile Marker 61, the Susan Creek residential area and the BLM Susan Creek Campground, HWY 138 E from Mile Marker 28 east to the Forest Service/BLM.

Level 2 Evacuation Notice – “Get Set” (threat is increasing) – Dry Creek and Illahee areas and Moore Hill Lane.

Flight Restrictions: The Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) for the fire complex remains in place. Pilots looking for additional information on the TFR go to http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html. The objective is to provide a safe environment for firefighting aircraft operations. The public is reminded that it is illegal to operate drones within a TFR.

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