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Umpqua North Complex fire reaches 18,000 Acres

Located in the northeast corner of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness near Rattlesnake Mountain and Fish Creek, the Rattlesnake Fire is now over 300 acres. (Photo courtesy Ben Sanders, Kings Peak Wildland Fire Module via Umpqua National Forest)

GLIDE, Ore. -- It was a challenging day for firefighters Sunday battling the North Umpqua Complex. It's current size is estimated at 18,073 acres with 7 percent containment.

As expected, fire activity intensified in the afternoon as temperatures rose into the mid 90s and relative humidity dipped into the teens, officials said.

The increased activity produced a 30-acre spot fire from the Happy Dog Fire on the east side of Forest Road 28 that firefighters are using as a primary containment line. Firefighters are currently battling to contain that fire.

The Mudd2 Fire (#393) also crossed Forest Road 28 and the Brokentooth Fire (#392), which had previously crossed that road, made a run to the southeast, prompting fire managers to move firefighters from other parts of the complex to respond.

They will continue work today to keep those fires east of Forest Road 3701, which will serve as a secondary containment line.

An additional two new fires drew initial attack responses on Sunday. These are likely “hold-over” fires from lightning strikes two weeks ago that flared up as a result of the hot, dry weather.

One was a 3 ½-acre fire in the Devils Canyon area. Firefighters got a line around the fire and will be mopping it up today. The other new start was an 8 ½-acre fire just west of the northwest flank of the Ragged Ridge Fire. Firefighters ringed the fire with hand and dozer line and got a hose lay around it to secure it for the night. Crews will also be mopping that fire up Monday.

Firefighters are also evaluating two other new fires in the Devils Canyon area. Both fires are estimated at 1 acre and fire managers are determining what action to take based on other priorities in the complex. Given the hot, dry conditions, fire managers are anticipating additional hold-over fires and are developing a response plan while at the same time continuing containment efforts on established fires.

Based on an infrared flight Sunday night, total acreage on the complex is now estimated at 18,073 acres, an increase of more than 3,200 acres from Aug. 25.

The Ragged Ridge and Happy Dog fires north of Hwy 138 East have merged and firefighters on Sunday continued strategic firing operations to contain those fires on the east and west sides. On the Fall Creek Fire, successful burnout operations strengthened the containment line on the south end of the fire. Elsewhere on the complex, firefighters continue to build indirect control lines by hand and with heavy equipment to contain fires and protect values at risk.

Incident: During the week of Aug. 9, lightning started dozens of fires across the northern Umpqua National Forest, along both sides of Highway 138 East, east of Roseburg in Douglas County, Ore.

Incident Command: Unified Command – Alaska Interagency Incident Management Team; Tom Kurth, Incident Commander, Douglas Forest Protective Association; Dan Thorpe, Incident Commander.

Current Size: 18,073 acres estimated total of complex based on an infrared flight on Aug. 27.

Containment: 7%

Current Resources: Crews: 24; Helicopters: 3; Engines: 81; Dozers: 14; Water Tenders: 22; Masticators: 7; Skidgens: 5; Total Personnel: 1,084.

Hunters – Know Before You Go:

With bow hunting season for deer and elk now open, hunters need to check for closures in the Umpqua National Forest before heading into the field. Fire managers are working with law enforcement to increase patrols and signage in closed areas.

Weather Conditions:

Hot, dry conditions will continue today with high temperatures expected in the high 90s and relative humidity around 20 percent. Temperatures are forecast to cool into the mid 80s on Tuesday and will drop into the high 70s on Wednesday before beginning to climb again.

Closure Notices:

Highway 138 East from Mile Markers 43 to 54 remains closed due to trees and rocks falling on the road, making it unsafe for motorists. 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 from Boulder Flat Raft Launch to Susan Creek Campground to boaters and anglers due to falling trees and rolling debris except for a short stretch of river near the Steamboat Inn that is open for fishing opportunities.

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) – Moore Hill Lane.

Level 3 Evacuation Notice – “Go” (threat is imminent) – Dry Creek and Illahee areas.

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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