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Recent storm shifts Umpqua North Fire efforts to suppression repair

Umpqua North Complex information (via Umpqua National Forest)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- Due to the recent storm that entered the region Tuesday afternoon, fire suppression efforts on the Umpqua North Fire Complex has now shifted to suppression repair, backhauling equipment and hoses from the fire line, officials said.

The Umpqua North Fire Complex involves six separate wildfires located along 35 miles of the Highway 138 corridor and spread across 179,279 acres of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. Fire acreage over the last few days has not changed from Monday’s 43,139 acres, since infrared over-flights have not been possible because of the passing storm.

Transmission lines are being restored by Pacific Power, with one line still out of operation due to damage by the fire. Cultural and natural resources at this time are not at risk from fire, but are still concern to managers due to storm impacts following this significant fire event. USFS timber sales and private commercial timber values were impacted during the fire activity and now suppression repair is underway so normal operations can soon resume on the forest.

A cold front passed over the Umpqua Forest on Tuesday, bringing significant rain and snow precipitation through Thursday morning. Portions of the fire received over 3 inches of rain.

Temperatures are cold, dropping as low as 32 F Thursday morning.

Thursday’s forecast is for periodic snow flurries, later turning to bands of showers late Thursday afternoon. Weather is expected to warm on Friday with partly cloudy skies and sunshine at times. Temperatures will rise into the mid-60s F, followed by a warming trend next week. Heavy fuels in the 1000 hour indices will continue to burn in the understory; however, the fire is expected to remain confined within its current perimeter. The energy release component (ERC) which helps determine the potential of fire spread has hit zero due to the arrival of this recent storm system.

Crews are continuing to monitor existing fire activity, but are primarily now focused on planning suppression repair work on the fire’s hand and dozer lines. Fire managers and Forest resource advisors have implemented suppression repair measures to address the impact of fire suppression work. These measures include building water bars to limit erosion, covering lines built by crews and dozers if needed, knocking down berms and removing piles of debris from line construction.

Incident Commander Taiga Rohrer stated: “The rain is delaying the game, but there is still lots of work in putting this fire to bed.”

Primary efforts will focus on suppression repair efforts from here on as crews monitor and search for any new fire activity. Snags and hazard trees are being identified and fallen as necessary.

Resources: Resources assigned to the Complex include 12 Crews, two helicopters, one fixed wing aircraft, 12 Engines, 1 Dozer, and 4 Water Tenders. There are a total of 599 personnel including the U.S. Army Taskforce Spearhead of 245 soldiers.

Closures: Current forest closures are still in effect, however, these closures are being re-evaluated and some of the road system will be re-opened this Friday when the Forest issues a revised and updated closure order. Oregon Department of Transportation is monitoring the situation along State Highway 138 carefully to ensure safe conditions for travelers.

For public safety, a closure order remains in place for areas of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. The closure area map can be viewed at https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd558669.pdf. The North Umpqua River remains closed from Soda Springs Dam to Susan Creek Campground. The north shore of the river from Panther Creek including Road (FR 4714) to Susan Creek is open to anglers only.

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