UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 30 ... The Chetco Bar fire was active on the north, south and east perimeter yesterday. It pushed several miles to the northeast into the area previously burned by the 2002 Biscuit Fire. It's grown to 128,738 acres and is 5 percent contained.
Fog developed overnight and is expected to cover most of the lower elevations of the fire this morning. The resulting cooler temperatures and improved humidity recovery should moderate fire behavior.
Later today, a strong high pressure front will move into the area. The resulting rise in temperatures, coupled with lower humidity and drying winds will increase fire activity. Fire could make its way to the tops of individual or groups of trees and potentially cast embers up to three-tenths of a mile, causing new ignitions (or spot fires). Temperatures will continue to rise this week and increases in fire behavior are anticipated.
With improved visibility, each of the seven helicopters assigned to Chetco Bar was able to work the fire on Tuesday. On the southern flank, aircraft provided bucket drops in the Emily Creek area. Crews connected most of the contingency line on the southwest/west edge and have been searching for, and extinguishing, hot spots within 25 feet of the fireline. Indirect line construction occurred in the Pistol River area.
Over the course of the incident, Oregon State Fire Marshal crews have assessed 1,222 structures, completed preparation work on 532 structures, and set more than 500 sprinklers.
Today, National Guard firefighters are joining the effort. They will extinguish hot spots that could potentially threaten containment lines between the fire and Brookings. Firefighters will take advantage of the moderated fire behavior early in the day to construct line in advance of the coming weather. This effort includes fireline construction in the areas at risk near Emily Creek and Hog Mountain. Aircraft will assist crews on the ground as visibility permits.
Level 2 ("SET") and Level 3 ("GO!") evacuations are in place in Curry County. They are being continually evaluated and adjusted to reflect developing conditions and resource availability. Residents are encouraged to monitor the Inciweb interactive evacuation map for changes.
UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUG. 29 ... The trend of warm overnight temperatures and low humidity has set the Chetco Bar fire up for another active fire day on Tuesday. The fire has burned 125,271 acres so far and is 5 percent contained.
Ridgetop temperatures could reach the 90s. Fire burning in the tops of single trees and groups of trees is anticipated, with the potential for embers to fly up to 0.4 miles ahead of the fire. There is a high potential for large fire growth in areas where wind and terrain align.
Shading from smoke helped moderate fire activity Monday, but it also presented challenges to aerial attack due to poor visibility. In the afternoon, smoke cleared enough that helicopters were able to work the northwest edge of the fire to support of crews and heavy equipment. The most active burning occurred in the Emily Creek drainage, the East Fork of the Pistol River and along the eastern flank in the Kalimiopsis Wilderness.
Looking ahead to today, reported 5% containment is on the fire’s west edge. Crews will continue scouting for and constructing primary and alternate containment lines and setting up hose-lays and water sources to be used in securing those lines. Constructed fireline includes a mix of line directly along the edge of the fire and some that is further from the fire’s edge in strategic locations. Firefighters will scout for and build direct and indirect lines along the north and east perimeter.
The risk to the Brookings area has diminished enough that larger structural engines are no longer needed. Chetco Bar Fire's Unified Command continues to utilize structural task forces that have the smaller engines.
Evacuations/Closure Information: Residences within parts of the Level 3 ("GO!") evacuation zone starting at the junction of Shady Lane and South Bank Chetco Road east, and including Freeman Rock and Salmon Run Golf Course have been reduced to a Level 2 ("SET") Evacuation.
UPDATE: MONDAY, AUG. 28 ... High temperatures and low humidity led to very active fire behavior on the Chetco Bar fire over the weekend. Fire growth on the southwest side of the fire, closest to the town of Brookings, led the Curry County Sheriff's Office to expand some evacuation areas and increase some evacuation levels.
With 80 degree temperatures and 20% relative humidity, the Chetco Bar Fire burned actively overnight and crews worked spot fires on the west and south perimeter. The fire burned toward Hog Mountain to the northwest, Snow Camp Trailhead to the north and above Emily Creek to the south on Sunday. As smoke cleared in the afternoon, helicopters dropped water to slow fire progression; helping firefighters who were working to hold fire within containment lines and build additional direct and indirect containment line.
Firefighters and heavy equipment worked to connect existing roads and dozer lines south and west of the fire. Crews also continued to assess buffer zones around houses and clear brush as needed to protect homes. They have moved into the Pistol River and Winchuk areas.
Today, firefighters will use an infrared heat sensing device to locate, then suppress hot spots near the fire’s perimeter. As visibility and weather conditions allow, helicopters and aircraft will drop retardant and water to help slow the fire’s spread.
Crews will continue to construct direct dozer and handline, install and maintain hoselays, and scout for opportunities to extend containment lines north and south of the fire. Planned containment lines incorporate existing roads, sparsely vegetated ridgetops, and previously burned areas, including the 2002 Biscuit Fire. A structure protection group will continue to reduce fuels surrounding homes, install and maintain hose lays.
Very heavy to hazardous smoke impacts exist this morning as smoke from the Chetco Bar Fire has drained down canyon into local communities overnight. Visibility is significantly reduced on local roadways, including Highway 101. Coastal areas such as Gold Beach and Brookings- Harbor should see some reprieve in air quality this afternoon as a light sea breeze is expected to lift smoke.
Agness and the Rogue River valley are expected to be Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy today. Cave Junction, Grants Pass, Ashland and surrounding communities are expected to see Unhealthy conditions through the day.
In the regional scale, Southwesterly transport winds are expected to drift smoke produced from Chetco Bar and other active fires in the region again to the north toward Washington.
UPDATE: FRIDAY, AUG. 25 ... Growth in the Chetco Bar fire is slowing, but residents of Brookings have been advised to get ready to evacuate if that becomes necessary.
The fire, burning in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, is currrently at 102, 333 acres. There is no containment at this time. The fire is approximately five miles northeast of Brookings, OR.
Yesterday, clear skies allowed aviation resources to drop retardant and water along containment lines on the western and southwestern portions of the fire. Throughout the night handcrews and dozers worked to build direct and indirect containment lines and patrol fire activity near homes.
The National Weather Service has issued a Fire Weather Watch for the Chetco Bar Fire area. Strong, gusty winds (10-15mph with gusts up to 25mph) and low relative humidity are expected from 7 p.m. tonight through 11 a.m. Saturday morning. As a result of the persistent winds and low relative humidity, fuels will be drier and prone to ignition from flying embers.
In preparation for the unfavorable weather conditions, known as the “Chetco Effect”, fire managers plan to take advantage of every opportunity to use aviation resources. On the ground, handcrews and dozers will continue building containment lines and providing structural protection throughout the fire area. Preparation efforts are focused in the western and southwestern portion of the fire.
The Red Cross is operating a shelter at Riley Creek Elementary, 94350 6th St. in Gold Beach, OR.
If you've been curious about the meanings of the levels in the "Ready! Set! Go!" evacuation scheme, here's a helpful guide ...
UPDATE: THURSDAY, AUG. 24 ... The Chetco Bar fire near Brookings continues to grow, but weather conditions over the past few days have allowed crews to make progress against what has been declared the nation's top priority wildfire.
Firefighters have been building direct fire line and indirect contingency line on the south and southwestern flank of the fire using hand crews, dozers and helicopter bucket drops. Crews continued to improve defensible space, prepping structures and setting up sprinkler systems around homes.
The locally-known “Chetco Wind” is expected over the fire area beginning tonight, creating gusty
Northeast winds and causing a drop in relative humidity and much warmer temperatures through Saturday. Firefighters have been preparing for this change in weather by building direct fire line and contingency lines on the south and southwestern portions of the fire and increasing the number of structural firefighting resources to assist with structure protection. The team will use helicopters and air tankers as weather allows.
Level 2 ("SET") and Level 3 ("GO!") evacuations remain in effect. Residents in the level 2 evacuation area are advised to remain prepared to leave the area at a moment's notice, while residents in the Level 3 evacuation area are advised to stay out of the area completely. An interactive map of the evacuation area can be viewed here.
Those who have not signed up for reverse 911, can sign up for the emergency alert here.
The Red Cross is continuing to staff an emergency evacuation shelter at Riley Creek Elementary at 94350 6th St. Gold Beach, OR. (541) 600-6068. There is no shelter in Brookings.
Smoke impacts and haze will increase today along the coast in the Gold Beach and Brookings-Harbor region due to northeast winds transporting smoke to the southwest. Highway 101 will continue to have limited visibility due to sea fog this morning transitioning to smoke midday. For more info about air quality, click here.
UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 ... Firefighters on the Chetco Bar fire in the Kalmiposis Wilderness near Brookings made progress yesterday and overnight, building direct and contingency indirect line on the south and southwestern flank of the fire including establishing dozer line and working around structures to improve defensible space.
The fire growth was minimal yesterday. The same is expected today because of favorable weather. The fire is still about 5.2 miles northeast of Brookings. It has burned 99,944 acres. Officials project the fire may not be contained until mid-October.
The public is asked to avoid the fire affected area and watch for fire crews and heavy equipment enroute to and from the fire line.
Community Meeting: A community meeting is being planned at Gold Beach this evening. The time and location will be announced later today.
Weather: Yesterday’s weather patterns of cooler air and higher relative humidity (RHs) is expected through Thursday, along with the light to moderate afternoon and evening sea breezes. Areas of fog and low clouds this morning will clear back to the coast this afternoon.
One more night of excellent humidity recovery is expected tonight, with a deep marine layer ahead of an approaching weak cold front. Cool high pressure will build into the Pacific Northwest behind this front, presenting another round of gusty north to northeast winds Thursday night into Friday. Onshore flow is expected to return Sunday or Monday, returning to the region’s typical weather.
Smoke and haze will continue to be visible along Gold Beach and Brookings-Harbor as there's little air movement. That is expected to change as soon as the coastal winds pick up in the afternoon. Rogue River valley and Gold Beach will see unhealthy levels throughout the day. Highway 101 will have limited visibility as smoke infiltrates along the coast. For more info about air quality, please visit the Oregon Smoke Blog: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/
Evacuations: For current information on areas under an evacuation please visit our interactive map. Yesterday, portions of the evacuation area was reduced to a Level 2, allowing residents in the fire affected area from Cape Ferrello Road and Carpenterville Road north to Pistol River and east and west off Carpenterville Road to return to their homes. Residents returning to their homes in Level 2 evacuation areas can obtain re-entry forms at established check points with verifiable proof of residency. Re-entry forms are no longer available at Ray’s Market. The Red Cross is continuing to staff an emergency evacuation shelter at Riley Creek Elementary in Gold Beach 94350 6th St. Gold Beach, OR. (541)-600-6068. There is no shelter in Brookings.
If you've been curious about the meanings of the levels in the "Ready! Set! Go!" evacuation scheme, here's a helpful guide ...
UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUG. 22 ... The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho has designated the Chetco Bar fire as the nation's top priority. The designation boosts the availability of firefighting resources as fire managers prioritize how to use limited personnel and materials.
Higher relative humidity and diminished winds caused minimal perimeter growth overnight, leaving the fire at about 98,000 acres. Some residents are being allowed to return to the homes they had to evacuate over the past few days. Three homes have been destroyed by the fire.
Yesterday’s weather patterns will continue throughout today and tonight with cooler temps, fog and low lying clouds. Slightly higher relative humidity’s overnight (60-70%) and lighter winds slowed the fire’s growth compared to previous days. We are seeing full humidity recoveries as high in elevation as 1500’.
The fire is still approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Brookings. Brookings and Harbor area will have some low-lying smoke as a result of the fire. Air quality will improve slightly but “sensitive groups” should limit exposure to the outdoors. For more information about air quality, please visit the Oregon Smoke Blog: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/
Fire crews used favorable weather conditions to their advantage to continue building direct and contingency indirect line on the south and southwestern flank of the fire, in the area between the Chetco River and Carpenterville. Structural protection resources are continuing to assess and work around structures to make them more defensible.
There is no community meeting scheduled at this time. Evacuations: Curry County Sheriff’s Office, in consultation with the Chetco Bar Incident Management Teams, are working to get displaced residents back into their homes as soon as possible. Evacuation orders remain in effect at this time. For current information on boundaries please visit our interactive map at http://arcg.is/1zXWzD
The Red Cross is staffing an emergency evacuation shelter at Riley Creek Elementary in Gold Beach 94350 6th St. Gold Beach, OR. (541)-600-6068. There is no shelter in Brookings.
UPDATE: MONDAY, AUG. 21 ... The Chetco Bar fire in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has tripled in size since Sunday morning. It's now burned more than 91,000 acres, leading to road and trail closures and evacuation orders.
Strong winds yesterday and overnight pushed the fire to the south and west. The present perimeter of the fire is in the vicinity of Nook Bar west to Ransom Ridge and north to Bosley Butte. Structure protection equipment will focus their work around homes.
Unstable atmospheric conditions seen for the past several days will ease as a different weather pattern moves into the area. An infrared flight estimated the size at 91,551 acres.
There will be significant smoke this weekend in the Brookings and Harbor area as a result of the fire. Air quality will fluctuate between “moderate” and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” in Brookings. For more information about air quality, please visit the Oregon Smoke Blog: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/
Evacuations: Yesterday the Curry County Sheriff’s Office issued an additional mandatory evacuation (Level 3) order that includes an area from the junction of Hwy 101 and Carpenterville Rd. north to the Pistol River, and east to the previous Level 3 evacuation areas. The Sheriff’s Office will continue to evaluate the need for additional evacuation orders as necessary to protect public safety. The Red Cross is staffing an emergency evacuation shelter at Riley Creek Elementary in Gold Beach 94350 6th St. Gold Beach, OR. (541)-600-6068. There is no shelter in Brookings.
Evacuation Meeting: A meeting will be held for displaced residences at the Red Cross Evacuation Shelter,- Riley Creek Elementary in Gold Beach 94350 6th St. at 3:30 p.m. For further information please call the shelter at (541)-600-6068.
Closures: An area closure is in effect in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in addition to the trail closures in place. Before you head out into the woods this weekend pleases check Inciweb or the Rouge River Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF) homepage for all closure orders including those that pertain to the Chetco Bar Fire.
Community Meeting: Azalea Middle School, 505 Pacific Ave, Brookings on Monday, Aug. 21, 6 p.m.
UPDATE: SUNDAY, AUG. 20 ... The Chetco Bar fire, which has been slowly burning in the fire scar of the 2002 Biscuit fire in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness for more than a month, has quickly grown in size and threat level, now reaching an estimated 31,000 acres and forcing evacuations and closures.
The Curry County Sheriff’s Office has issued a mandatory Level 3 (GO!) evacuation order that encompasses Gardner Ridge Road to the Wilson Creek area, and along the Chetco River from Gardner Ridge Road to the Wilderness Retreat area. A Level 2 notice (Be Ready) has been issued from Tide Rock to Cameron Bridge and from Shady to Mt. Emily road. The Sheriff’s Office will be evaluating the need for additional evacuation orders as necessary to protect public safety.
There is a public meeting planned for 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon at Azalea Middle School, 505 Pacific Ave, Brookings.
Currently, strong north winds overnight continued to push the fire to the south. The south perimeter of the fire is in the vicinity of Little Redwood Campground and Panda Ridge. Overnight, structure protection and a burnout operation was successful in protecting the Wilderness Retreat area. Incoming structure protection equipment will focus their work around homes.
Unstable atmospheric conditions will continue for most of the day with winds easing somewhat this afternoon. There will be significant smoke this weekend in the Brookings and Harbor area as a result of the fire. Air quality will fluctuate between “moderate” and “unhealthy for sensitive groups” in Brookings. For more information about air quality, please visit the Oregon Smoke Blog: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/
An area closure is in effect in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in addition to the trail closures in place. Before you head out into the woods this weekend pleases check Inciweb or the Rouge River Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF) homepage for all closure orders including those that pertain to the Chetco Bar Fire.
As the eclipse approaches and traffic in the area significantly increases, please keep yourself and others safe. August is peak wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest. A small spark can rapidly become a large fire. Know fire risks and respect fire restrictions, such as campfire bans. Tread lightly and leave no trace. Leave your site better than you found it.
Social Media Resources:
Twitter: @RRSNF #ChetcoBarFire Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5385/
ORIGINAL POST: The Chetco Bar fire has been slowly burning since mid-July in an area of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness burned by the 2002 Biscuit fire. Because of its slow movement and back country location, fire managers have taken a careful approach of building contingency lines and planning for long term containment.
But the fire made an unexpected run and jumped containment lines last night, triggering road closures and evacuation orders.
“It moved much more quickly yesterday and last night than we expected; the containment plans we had are no longer feasible,” US Forest Service Incident Commander Bob Houseman told the Curry Coastal Pilot. “If the fire behaves like that again today, it could be pressing that (Wilderness Retreat) area by this afternoon.”
As a result of the fire’s movement, more resources arrived on scene today including engines, crews and overhead. More fire resources are in route and expected in the coming days. With strong north winds and lower relative humidity the fire moved to the south and is established in the Quail Prairie drainage. An infrared flight estimates the fire at 10,963 acres.
The Curry County Sheriff’s Department has issued a Level 3 (GO!) mandatory evacuation. The evacuation order area is in the Wilderness Area and along the Chetco River above Loeb State Park. Level 3, or "GO!": LEAVE WITHIN 24 HOURS alerts residents that danger to your area is current or imminent, and you should evacuate as soon as possible but no later than 8 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 19.
There is also an evacuation warning area at the three river bars along the Chetco River - Miller, Nook and Redwood bars.
At 8 a.m. tomorrow, Saturday, Aug. 19, the voluntary evacuation warning will become a mandatory evacuation order. A warning means that there is a probability of the need to evacuate. Residents should make arrangements to move property and livestock. People with special health needs or other concerns should relocate during the warning.
Displaced residents may relocate to the evacuation shelter at the Brookings-Harbor High School (625 Pioneer Rd, Brookings, 97415). The American Red Cross is staffing this shelter. Travelers in campers and motels are asked to relocate elsewhere along the Oregonian coast.
The Sheriff’s Department is turning back public traffic along the North Bank Chetco River Road at the Loeb State Park. Only residents will be allowed to proceed past that checkpoint. Due to the imminent risk to public safety, there will be no exceptions to this policy. We strongly advise travelers to avoid this area so the appropriate law enforcement and wildland firefighter resources can respond to this emergency.
Chetco Bar Fire Information will be staffed 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and can be reached at 541-247-3680. There will be a Community Meeting Sunday, 3 p.m., at the Azalea Middle School, 505 Pacific Ave, Brookings.
The Sheriff will be hold a press conference at 5:00 pm at the Brookings Emergency Operations Center (898 Elk Dr. Brookings, OR)
With 80 degree temperatures and 20% relative humidity, Chetco Bar Fire burned actively overnight and crews worked spot fires on the west and south perimeter.