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Umpqua North Complex: Scattered lightning, dry fuels & high fire danger ahead for forest

View from Diamond Lake looking west towards Mt. Bailey, September 5, 2017. (Photo via Umpqua National Forest)

GLIDE, Ore. -- The lightning-caused Umpqua North Complex of fires has burned an estimated 31,568 acres with 24 percent containment.

Tuesday, fires in the complex at elevations above 2,500 feet became active in the late morning and early afternoon as the inversion began to lift. By mid-afternoon smoke from fires in the High Cascade Complex drifted over and combined with the morning inversion layer which moderated fire behavior to surface spread. Fires in lower elevations remained in a thick inversion throughout the day limiting fire behavior to low intensity.

In the east zone of the complex tactical firing is extending the eastern flank of the Happy Dog Fire to connect it with the Brokentooth Fire, strengthening primary containment lines to FR 28. Access to the west flank of the Happy Dog Fire is being scouted for future suppression opportunities. On the Devil Fire, crews are working to connect containment lines that will secure the full perimeter. The Ragged Ridge Fire has progressed into both sides of the Boulder Creek Drainage and is established in the Rattle and North Fork burn scars. The structure group continued mop-up in Illahee Flats and Dry Creek to further secure the area.

In the west zone, the Fall Creek Fire is expected to be fully secured within 24 hours. Crews along the northern flank of the Ragged Ridge Fire will be taking advantage of the heavy smoke inversion combined with cooler and moister weather in the forecast to make progress containing perimeter growth to the north and east.

A change in the weather pattern will take place between Wednesday and Thursday as a trough moves in from the west bringing with it a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Cooler temperatures and more moist air will occur with highs in the eighties and minimum relative humidity in the mid-30s to mid-40s. A Red Flag Warning is in effect as of 11 a.m. Wednesday through 11 p.m. Thursday for scattered lightning, dry fuels and high fire danger.

Information on smoke can be found on the Oregon smoke blog at http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has information on emergency preparedness services including how to register your cell phone via the Citizen Emergency Notification System at http://dcso.com/.

Evacuations:

Level 1 Evacuation Notice “Be Ready” for the Clearwater area along Highway 138 East from Mile Marker 56 to Mile Marker 61.

Level 2 Evacuation Notice “Be Set” for Dry Creek, Illahee areas and Slide Creek along Highway 138 East from Mile Marker 53 to 56.

Road Closures:

Highway 138 E is closed from mile markers 47 to 54 due to hazardous trees and debris falling onto the roadway as well as the possibility of increased fire activity near the road corridor. There is no detour around the road closure and it is recommended the public plan an alternate travel route prior to departing home.

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 Soda Springs Dam to the Falls at Steamboat Inn and from Jeannie Fishing Hole at Steamboat to Susan Creek Campground. As of September 5, 2017 the north shore of the North Umpqua River from Susan Creek to FR 4714 (Panther Creek Road) has been reopened to anglers only.

For more information on forest closures see Public Notices at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/Umpqua/alerts-notices.

The latest Umpqua North Complex Information can be found at:https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5505/.

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