Highway Closure, Evacuation Notices Stand for Umpqua North Complex Fires

Aug 23, 2017

Please see our Oregon Wildfire Roundup post for the latest updates on this fire ...

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 ... The fires of the Umpqua North Complex east of Roseburg are holding at 11,680 acres, and remain 1 percent contained. There are no changes to current evacuation levels.

Firefighters made progress on Tuesday with burnout operations on the west side of the Fall Creek fire and are close to completing this work. Burnout objectives are to use low intensity ignition techniques to produce a ground fire to remove burnable vegetation between the fire and firelines.

Crews continued to improve control lines on the south and east side of this fire. They were also able to keep the Ragged Ridge and Happy Dog North fires from moving into the Steamboat drainage.

In the Devil’s Canyon area, crews were able to complete the construction of a fireline around Fire #320. The Devils Canyon Fire itself, however, presented firefighters with challenges as steep terrain temporarily halted their progress. Firefighters continue to be challenged by falling debris that often prohibited use of Highway 138. 

Additional resources arrived at the complex on Tuesday. These crews and equipment will be used strategically to build and reinforce containment lines around the 135 miles of fire perimeter. Wednesday’s plans include continuing the work on the west side of the Fall Creek Fire to prevent its spread toward private lands.

In the Dry Creek/Ragged Ridge area, crews will work to hold the fire at the 4760 Road.

South of Highway 138, the goal today is to keep the fire west of the Copeland Creek Road (the 28 Road). Firefighters will continue to work along the 428 Road on the Brokentooth Fire to prevent its spread toward the east. On the Devils Canyon Fire, personnel will begin establishing an indirect line away from the main fire, since steep terrain makes direct line construction impossible.

Weather Conditions:

Fire activity will be moderated today by cloudy skies and mild temperatures. High temperatures will range from 71 at higher elevations to 84 in the valleys. Relative humidity will drop to 36 to 44% and winds will be relatively light, ranging from1 to 14 mph.

The Smoke Outlook for the Umpqua North Complex for Wednesday is “Unhealthy for Special Groups” in the Glide and Diamond Lake areas, and “Unhealthy” for Steamboat / Toketee Falls areas. For further information, go to: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.

As the Happy Dog and Fall Creek fires continue to move both east and west along the HWY 138 E corridor, the Structure Protection Group is out ahead of the advancing fires by many miles. This group is tasked with developing structure protection plans for individual homes and structures. These plans require an on-site inspection during which they review ingress and egress routes, conditions of defensible space around the structures, and safety zones should fire threaten the structures. Fire crews perform mitigating measures if time permits. Please welcome these firefighters as they arrive to your home to complete this important work.

Umpqua National Forest Closure Orders:

The Umpqua National Forest remains closed in areas of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. For more information see Public Notices at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/Umpqua/alerts-notices.

 

 

UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUG. 22 ... A section of Highway 138 East remains closed and several evacuation notices remain in effect as crews work to contain the Umpqua North Complex fires east of Roseburg. The fires total 11,680 acres and are only 1 percent contained.

Monday’s inversion reduced the fire activity on the Fall Creek, Happy Dog and Ragged Ridge fires as well as preventing helicopters from flying. On the positive side of the inversion, the reduced fire activity allowed firefighters on the ground time to construct, improve and strengthen firelines on these three fires. The exception was in the Devils Canyon cluster of fires where the air cleared in the afternoon and fire activity increased. Water scooper aircraft, taking water out of Diamond Lake, were utilized to support ground forces working on Fire #305.

Tuesday’s efforts will focus on advancing firelines, improving and holding existing lines in preparation for burnout operations on the Fall Creek and Happy Dog Fires as conditions allow. Holding the west and south flanks of Falls Creek are the top priority. Burnout objectives are to use low intensity ignition techniques to produce a ground fire to remove burnable vegetation between the fire and firelines.

Nightshift crews continued with line improvements and mop-up around homes and structures in the Dry Creek and Illahee areas. The Happy Dog Fire slowly advanced to the east along the north side of HWY 138 E and south of the Illahee Road, FS Road 4760. HWY 138 E was closed mid-afternoon Monday between Mile Marker 50 and 51 to all traffic, including firefighters, due to very dense smoke and falling debris. This closure remains in effect today.

Closure Notice:

Highway 138 East from Mile Markers 43 to 54 remains closed due to concerns with falling debris and fire activity. Road shoulders and pullouts between Mile Markers 31 to 35 of the highway are also closed to provide for public and firefighter safety.

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.

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.

Weather Conditions:

Monday a strong inversion settled into the valley lasting the entire day. This kept fire activity low, except on the east end of the complex, where the air cleared and fire activity increased rapidly. The smoke was dense enough in the valley that only air operations on the eastern end of the complex could operate. Tuesday’s temperatures will be in the high 80’s with light west to northwest ridge top winds. Light valley winds will be terrain driven, causing the fires to move and spot in multiple directions. The inversion is expected to lift around 5 p.m. today. There is a slight chance of afternoon dry thunderstorms; as they develop, very gusty and erratic out flow winds are possible.

The Smoke Outlook for the Umpqua North Complex for Tuesday is “Unhealthy for Special Groups” in the Glide and Diamond Lake areas, and “Unhealthy” for Steamboat / Toketee Falls areas for Tuesday. For further information, go to: http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUG. 21 ... The fires within the Umpqua North Complex became very active after the inversion lifted Sunday afternoon and continued that way into the early hours of Monday. Up valley winds in the afternoon, in combination with northerly winds, contributed to the fires advancing; generally in an east direction in the valley bottoms. Later in the afternoon, swirling gusty winds caused spotting up to .25 mile, spreading fires in multiple directions.

Crews again worked hard all night on the Happy Dog fire focusing on structure protection in the Dry Creek and Illahee areas. The fire advanced north toward the Ragged Ridge Fire and east along HWY 138 E. That portion of the Happy Dog south of HWY 138 E advanced to the east and south toward FS Road 28. Monday the focus remains on structure protection and securing firelines around developed areas.

Sunday afternoon, the Fall Creek fire experienced very active fire in multiple locations, challenging containment efforts. This activity required crews to initiate a burn out operation along the Wright Creek Road, FS Road 4711 and along roads to the south. Crews were successful holding the southeast flank overnight. The fire has crossed Fox Creek to the west, but still remains east of private and BLM lands. Helicopters dropping water are supporting efforts to hold and improve firelines. These lines will eventually connect with the contingency line constructed by Douglas Forest Protective Association. Gusty, variable direction winds will challenge firefighting efforts throughout today.

In the middle of the complex, the Ragged Ridge fire remains active moving to the north and west. The fire remains west of FS Road 4760 and east of Steamboat Falls Road, FS Road 38. The Oak Nob Fire is 90% contained and was placed in patrol status and those resources were reassigned to higher priority fires within the complex. In the Twin Lakes area the Calf-Copeland group of fires actively burned Sunday as fire managers develop management strategies. Helicopter bucket drops of water have been successful so far in protecting the structures in the area from damage.

On the eastern portion of the complex, the Brokentooth and Devils Canyon fires remain active as engine crews monitor and fire managers develop plans to manage these fires. Crews have been successful in completing approximately 80% of a fireline surrounding Fire #320 in the Devils Canyon area, and suppression efforts are now focusing on Fire #305. Monday winds be from the east and swing to the northwest testing containment lines.

Aircraft are a major resource which is being utilized on multiple fires within the complex; one large and two medium helicopters are providing water bucket drops in strategic locations to aid firefighters in containing and holding the lines.

With no significant change in the current weather pattern many of the fires are expected to experience significant growth. Temperatures will increase slightly as relative humidity drops. Monday’s winds will be light from the east switching to the northwest in the afternoon gusting to 14 mph over the ridge tops. Valley winds will be variable and gusty at times. Tuesday will be sunny with a slight chance of afternoon dry thunderstorms and associated erratic, gusty outflow winds. >Known fires within the complex

Approximate mapped acres from an infrared flight on 8/21/2017 at 2:31 a.m., and current focus:

Fall Creek – 2,517 acres – Line improvement, holding and contingency development 

Happy Dog – 5,208 acres – Structure Protection, line construction and contingency 

Ragged Ridge – 1,256 acres – Develop control lines to west and east using roads 

Oak Nob – 59 acres – Mop-up and patrol 

Brokentooth cluster of fires – 563 acres – Assessment and line options 

Devil’s Canyon cluster of fires – 392 acres – Hold and mop-up Fire #320 and strategy 

Calf Copeland cluster of fires – 960 acres – Assessment and strategy

There are other fires within the complex that have not been mapped 

HWY 138 E is closed between Mile Markers 43 and 54 for public safety, due to falling debris and firefighting activities. Alternative east/west routes are recommended to the north through Eugene/Springfield on Highways 58 or 126; or to the south through Medford on Highways 62 or 140. 

Smoke outlook for Monday in the Umpqua North Complex vicinity is available here. In general it is Unhealthy in the Steamboat / Toketee Falls area, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups in the Diamond Lake area and Moderate in the Glide area. 

Evacuation Notices:

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. 

UPDATE: FRIDAY, AUG. 18 ... Active burning on the Umpqua North Complex continued into the late evening Thursday. A large spot fire grew to approximately 100 acres south of the Happy Dog fire, across the river and Highway 138 in steep, inaccessible terrain.

Smoke is hampering air attack efforts, but no structures have been lost as of this morning and structure protection efforts are continuing in the Dry Creek area. Fire behavior is described by managers as "dynamic" from 3 pm to 10 pm, and holding line is most challenging during this period. 

Numerous spots and fire growth also occurred north of the Ragged Ridge fire and in the Broken Tooth and Devils Canyon areas. The Fall Creek fire is characterized as backing and under-burning, with low to moderate threat at this time. Contingency line is being constructed near the western flank on private land, BLM boundaries.

Known fires being managed in the complex, acres and current focus:

Fall Creek 997 acres Line construction and contingency line

Happy Dog 1586 acres Structure Protection, spot fire

Ragged Ridge 553 acres Timber equipment moving out

Oak Nob 59 acres Mop-up and contain

Broken Tooth 100 acres Assessment and strategy

Devils Canyon 67 acres Assessment an strategy

Calf Copeland 36 acres Twin Lakes Cabin protectedp>Initial Attack - Ongoing as new fires present

Highway 138 has a "HARD" closure between mile markers 43 and 54 and only emergency vehicles will be allowed access, due to debris fallout, fire and fire fighting activities. Alternative east/west routes are recommended to the north through Eugene/Springfield on Highways 58 or 126; or to the south through Medford on Highways 62 or 140.

Level 3 ("GO") Evacuation Notice for the Dry Creek and Illahee areas is in place. An evacuation shelter has been set up at the 7th Day Adventist Church at 19085 North Umpqua Highway, Glide, Oregon.

Power lines in the area have been deenergized by PacifiCorp in order to alleviate further power disruption. 13 power poles were identified as having been affected by fire.

Warmer and drier weather conditions have led to more active fire behavior across the Umpqua North Complex and prompted a number of road and trail closures effective August 16. When combined with closures already in place, the Forest Service advises people to avoid traveling Highway 138 along the North Umpqua River. Hiking or horseback riding in Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness, Boulder Creek Wilderness or Mt Bailey area is not advised. Also closed is the section of North Umpqua Trail from Lemolo Reservoir to Soda Springs and the trail from Kelsay Valley Horse Camp. People planning to travel from the I-5 corridor to Diamond Lake, Crater Lake or eastern Oregon are asked to avoid traveling on Highway 138 which is currently closed between mileposts 39 and 54. Highways to the north and south are open for traveling.

According to Forest Orders 373 and 374, the following roads are now closed on the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts:

Forest Road 4770 (Wilson Creek/Twin Lakes Road) at the intersection with State Highway 138 to Twin Lakes Trailhead; Forest Road 4750 from Horseshoe Bend Campground to Twin Lakes area; Forest Road 28 from State Highway 138 to French Junction (Copeland Creek Road) and Forest Road 28-620.

Many trails are now closed, including:

Windigo Pass Trail #1412; North Umpqua Trail segments of Dread & Terror; Hot Springs & Deer Leap; Mt. Bailey Trail #1451; Rodley Butte Trail #1452; West Lake Trail #1452A; Dread & Terror Trail #1461; Skookum Lake Trail #1464; Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail #1470; Garwood Butte Trail #1471; Whitehorse Meadows Trail #1477; Bradley Trail #1491; Soda Springs Trail #1493; Boulder Creek Wilderness Trail #1552; Wild Rose Trail #1535; Fuller Lake Trail #1543.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, AUG. 17 ... The fires of the North Umpqua Complex have grown to a total of 1,7 10 acres. They remain uncontained.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office,raised the evacuation back to a Level 3 (GO) Notice for the Dry Creek and Illahee areas on Wednesday at 6 pm due to increased fire activity. Highway 138 East was closed by Oregon Department of Transportation from Milepost 39 to 54, with pilot cars intermittently guiding drivers through, when fire activities allow. If traveling along this road, expect long delays and be patient. Drivers are reminded to drive safely and be watchful of firefighter activities.

On Wednesday, Umpqua North Complex fires became more active. Clear skies and windy conditions increased fire activity across the complex. The management team continues to respond to the numerous fires burning in the Umpqua National Forest. Crews continue to work on managing fires along the road and river corridors. Helicopters with water dropping buckets are assisting firefighters on the ground to keep the Fall Creek fire from spreading westward. Fires along the highway corridor threaten power infrastructure; PacifiCorp has been able to reroute energy through other circuits.

This is box canyon country, with very steep terrain and heavy brush. Coordinated efforts from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Forestry, Douglas Forest Protective Association, and local fire departments all continue to work together to aid in the firefighting efforts.

Weather Conditions: Weather continues to be warmer and drier with temperatures increasing from the day before.Oregon Department of Environmental Quality monitors in Roseburg showed unhealthy air quality readings over the past 24 hours but conditions are trending toward more moderate levels.

Flight Restrictions: A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the fires. Pilots looking for more 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.

Portions of the river are closed along the North Umpqua River between Steamboat/Gravel Bin put-in and Susan Creek take-out remains closed to boaters and anglers due to falling trees and rolling debris. Road shoulders and pullouts between Mileposts 31 to 35 and Mileposts 45 to 50.5 of Highway 138 East, also known as the North Umpqua Highway are closed to protect public and firefighter safety.

Umpqua National Forest Closure Orders: The Umpqua National Forest remains closed in areas of the North Umpqua and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts.

National Forest System (NFS) Roads Closure: NFS Road No. 4750 and all roads within the area closure listed above. NFS Road No. 2800-620Trails: Trail No. 1414 - The North Umpqua Trail, from the Forest Service boundary to the Mott & Panther Trailheads on NFS Road No. 4712, Trail No. 1502 - Fall Creek Falls Trail, Trail No. 1513 - Williams Creek Trail, Trail No. 1530 - Riverview Trail, Trail No. 1510 - Deception Trail, Trail No. 1521, Twin Lakes Loop, Trail No. 1500, Twin Lakes Trail. Recreation Sites: Steamboat Falls Campground, Wright Creek Campground, and Horseshoe Bend Campground.

Social Media Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UmpquaNationalForest/

  ORIGINAL POST: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 16 ... During the week of August 9th, lightning started dozens of fires across the northern Umpqua National Forest along both sides of State Route 138 east of Roseburg in Douglas County, Oregon. The fires, known collectively as the Umpqua North Complex -- total about 1,410 acres and are at 0 percent containment. On Tuesday, fire activity across the complex was moderate. Cloud cover and heavy smoke kept temperatures lower than forecasted, giving firefighters an opportunity to begin making good progresswith both direct and indirect fireline construction. The fire management team continues to develop a strategy to respond to the numerous fires burning in the Umpqua National Forest. Resources continue to arrive to aid in the effort.

The highest priority area being addressed is the Fall Creek Fire along Highway 138, with the plan to limit its westerly progression towards private land. Forest Road 4711, off Highway 138 is closed to traffic. This is box canyon country, very steep terrain and heavy brush.

Happy Dog Fire (Dry Creek area) is holding well and firefighters are managing the incident. Structure protection is in place for those areas that have been threatened. Other fires are being managed throughout the complex.

Firefighting resources from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Management, Oregon Department of Forestry and volunteer and local fire departments all continue to work together to aid the firefighting efforts.

Weather conditions are stable overhead, with a slow warming and drying trend forecast for the weekend. Relative humidity should stay the same.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, in coordination with the Umpqua North Complex Fire Managers, lowered the Level 3 Evacuation Notice for the Dry Creek area to Level 2.

Floating on and fishing along the North Umpqua River between Steamboat/Gravel Bin take-out and Susan Creek remains closed due to rolling debris and falling trees.

The road shoulders and pullouts between Mile Posts 31 to 35 and Mile Posts 45 to 50.5 of the State Highway 138 East, also known as the North Umpqua Highway, are being closed to protect public and firefighter safety. The road remains open to through traffic. Please drive with extra care on this highway.

Flight Restrictions: A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place over the fires. Pilots looking for more 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.

Over 100 people attended a community meeting at the Glide Community Center Tuesday evening. Community members were engaged, very knowledgeable, and interested about the fire activities.

The main topics of concern were dangerous traffic on Highway 138 and limiting access to the North Umpqua River.

The Umpqua National Forest has announced the following closures in the Umpqua North and Diamond Lake Ranger Districts. To read the Forest Closure Orders go here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/umpqua/alertsnotices

Social Media Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UmpquaNationalForest/