Rains Seriously Dampen Chetco Bar Fire

Sep 19, 2017

FINAL UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPT. 19 ... Continued wet, cool weather has largely dampened the Chetco Bar fire, which now stands at 190,512 acres and is 68 percent contained.  

This will be our final update on the Chetco Bar fire in this separate post, barring an unexpected serious fire threat. We'll continue to post daily updates on size and containment as part of our Oregon Wildfire Roundup post.

Smoke impacts will remain light to moderate in communities near the fire perimeter, and smoke will remain visible from within the fire perimeter until there is a major, season ending event.

The focus of operations in these areas is shifting from fire suppression to suppression rehabilitation. Crews are working to repair hand and dozer lines, retrieve hoses, and install water bars to prevent erosion in areas blacklined across the perimeter. Due to the wet weather, fire crews may encounter hazardous conditions including fire-weakened trees, mudslides, and slippery conditions.

As cooler, moist weather increases, more containment will be achieved, strengthening control lines on the fire perimeter.

Rainfall over the Chetco East Zone Fire and Indigo Fire (784 Fire) areas totaled approximately ¼ inch on Monday. Cool, moist air and wet fuels resulted in very little active fire. Smoldering and some smoke production occurred in fuels sheltered by thick forest canopy and in small jackpots of dry fuel. Infrared flights have not occurred due to cloudy weather, so current fire sizes (Chetco Bar: 190,512 acres and Indigo: 578 acres) were determined using previous IR data and GPS points from observers.

Due to low risk of fire spread and well-established firelines in the West Zone, all previous evacuation levels in Curry County were withdrawn on Monday at noon. The Level 2 Evacuation “Be Set” is still in effect along Illinois River Road in Josephine County. Level 2 Evacuation means residents should be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Please monitor the Illinois Valley Fire District Facebook page or one of the information sources below for announcement of evacuation level changes.

Yesterday, masticators and fire crews constructed fireline on the north side of the fire to the west of Bear Camp. Temperatures in the area were in the mid-40s and conditions were slippery due to rain, so progress was slow. A warming tent and laundry service has been provided at camp to keep firefighters dry and healthy during the expected cold and damp weather.

Today, fireline construction, brush removal and mastication will continue west of Bear Camp and along the 076 Road east of the Indigo Fire as conditions allow. Due to subdued fire activity in the Illinois River Road area, pumps, sprinklers and hose lays set up for structure protection will be removed starting today. In the event that conditions change, they will be reinstalled. Fuel-free firelines will not be altered or rehabilitated until risk of fire movement has passed.

Up to ½ inch of rain is possible over the fire area today. Temperatures will range from 52 to 57 degrees on ridges with high minimum relative humidity (75-85%). These conditions will shut down fire activity except in the most sheltered, dry fuels. Winds are forecast out of the southwest with gusts up to 18 mph on ridges. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning from late this afternoon through Wednesday afternoon due to risk of runoff and debris flows on Chetco Bar Fire burn scars.

UPDATE: FRIDAY, SEPT. 15 ... At this point, the most active part of the Chetco Bar fire is actually on the Indigo (or 784) fire, a more recent, smaller fire (360 acres as of this morning) located about 10 miles north of the Chetco Bar fire proper. It's in an area with no roads and firefighting crews have been dropped into a "spike camp" to make their base of operations closer to where they're working.

The Chetco Bar fire now stands at 188,284 acres and is 38 percent contained.

Smoldering, creeping, short uphill runs and group tree torching were observed Thursday on the northeast perimeter of the Indigo fire. The fire grew to 360 acres yesterday evening and developed a smoke column and cloud. Fire spread to the northeast but did not cross the West Fork of Indigo Creek into Josephine County. Rock scree has kept the fire in check on its west side. Helicopters will drop water on the fire as needed to reduce spread.

The most activity in the East Zone of the Chetco Bar Fire was in the horseshoe bend of the Illinois River. Smoldering, creeping, short uphill runs and group tree torching were observed. The fire continues to slowly spread northeast.

Yesterday, two crews completed handline construction across the rocky areas along the ridge west of the headwaters of Parker Creek. The crews returned to fire camp after staying in a spike camp for two nights. Crews also completed the handline near Woodcock Peak. Fire containment line is now completed from the California border to the south end of Chrome Ridge.

Today, fire crews plan to continue brushing, chipping and masticating between Chrome Ridge and Bear Camp. East Zone crews have continued reopening Biscuit firelines from Bear Camp west into Curry County. They are coordinating with the West Zone to determine where to connect firelines both here and on the south side of the fire.

The southeastern perimeter within the Gold Beach Ranger District of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness from Hawk Creek west to Chetco Lake has been contained. Burning operations were utilized to construct lines on the southern perimeter along the 1205 Road, southwest to the Wheeler Creek area. Crews are retrieving hose lines and equipment along the southwest and western perimeter from Miller Bar to north of Palmer Butte and north, just south of Bosley Butte. The fire is still active in the northwest perimeter near Snow Camp Mountain, and crews continue to construct and strengthen control lines along this perimeter.

Dozers have been deployed in the southernmost portion of the perimeter near DP9 to construct lines.

Data collection is continuing on the western portion of the fire’s perimeter for suppression repair activities. Patrol and mop continues all along the western side of the fire.

Today’s high temperatures will increase 2-4 degrees with a high of 80 degrees on ridges. Relative humidity (RH) will decrease, with the minimum RH forecast at 20%. With a morning inversion, winds will be light and variable. Later in the day, winds will come out of the north/northeast at 5-10 mph with gusts to 15 mph on ridges. Potential fire activity today is moderate. Group tree torching and spotting to ¼ mile are possible.

Level 1 and Level 2 evacuation orders remain for portions of Brookings-Harbor and the Upper Winchuck areas. Forest area, road and trail closures are still in effect. For further information, click here.

A dry cold front is forecasted to move into the area, bringing cooler temperatures. Another weather front is expected to move into the area by Sunday, bringing with it the possibility of measurable precipitation over the fire.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, SEPT. 14 ... The cooler weather has moderated fire intensity and spread. Conditions have allowed crews to utilize direct suppression tactics. Smoke impacts continue to be light in communities surrounding the Chetco Bar fire, however smoke impacts may increase depending on fire activity and winds. Some evacuation levels have been reduced on the Curry County side of the fire.

The fire now stands at 186,365 acres and is 12 percent contained.

On Wednesday, the most significant fire activity in the Chetco Bar East Zone was in the north end of the fire perimeter. Smoldering, creeping, short uphill runs and single tree torching were observed near the horseshoe of the Illinois River. Fire crews and masticators are working on completing reopened Biscuit fireline to the east.

The 784/Indigo fire  on the West Fork of Indigo Creek was also active yesterday. This fire is approximately 182 acres. It was detected on Monday, September 11th and is located approximately 10 miles north of the Chetco Bar Fire. Helicopters dropped water through the day to reduce its spread. Hand crews, dozers and a masticator continue to prepare the 055 and 510 roads to create a fireline to its east side. Crews on the 784 Fire/Indigo Fire will spend the next two nights in a spike camp near their work area to reduce exposure from driving long distances to the main fire camp.

Today, two crews will complete handline construction in spiny, rocky areas along the ridge west of the headwaters of Parker Creek. The crews will return to fire camp tonight after staying in a spike camp for the past two nights. East of the fire, crews, supported by heavy equipment including a feller buncher, are widening and improving the dozer line along Chrome Ridge and moving north toward Bear Camp. Fire crews are preparing line to Bear Camp from Galice, which provide containment lines for the Chetco Bar and the 784 Fire/Indigo Fire.

Fire crews plan to complete brushing out fireline from the west side of Tennessee Mountain to Woodcock Peak. Work along the Illinois River Road using a masticator is nearly complete. Personnel are scouting locations for fire line near the California boarder to tie in with dozer lines in the west zone.

Today’s high temperatures will be down 2-4 degrees with a high of 77 degrees on ridges. Relative humidity (RH) will decrease, with the minimum RH forecast at 25%. Winds will be light in the morning, forecast out of the north/northwest with little instability in the atmosphere. Wind gusts between 15-20 mph on ridges are forecast for tonight as a dry cold front moves into the area.

Evacuation orders in Curry County were re-evaluated on September 13th, 2017.

The following areas are under a Level 1 Evacuation: 

• Southern Curry County line at the sea front, north to the Pistol River area, including: 

 Carpenterville Road and all intersecting roads east and west; 

 Gardner Ridge Road from the intersection of North Bank to Palmer View Road; 

 North Bank Chetco Road to Loeb Park, and South Bank Chetco Road to the Salmon Run Golf Course 

• Level 1 evacuations also in effect for areas of Del Norte, California 

The following areas are under a Level 2 Evacuation: 

• East above Peavine Road in the Winchuck Drainage 

• South Bank of the Chetco above Salmon Run Golf Course 

• North Bank of the Chetco above Loeb Park to include Wilderness Retreat 

• Gardner Ridge Road above Palmer Butte to include Cate and Hazel Camp Areas 

There are no Level 3 Evacuation orders currently in effect in Curry County. 

Forest area, road and trail closures are still in effect. For further information, click here.  

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 13 ... Tuesday’s weather trend toward slightly cooler temperatures, slightly higher humidities, a bit of cloud cover over the fire and light winds allowed firefighting crews to utilize direct suppression tactics. Air operations were also heavily engaged yesterday, taking advantage of clearer skies and the lighter winds. Water and retardant were dropped into areas to cool the fire’s edge in locations that were accessible to firefighters, to provide for direct attack closest to areas with values at risk.

Portions of the fire are smoky with hot spots within the interior and along the perimeter. Fuels are still very dry, despite the bit of rain last week. Fire activity is smoldering, backing, and creeping, with active ground fire in scattered areas. Fire may be more active in the higher elevations along ridgetops where the humidities are lower and winds gusty.

Yesterday, lines were constructed along segments of the south and southwest perimeter and efforts are being made to tie in firelines at Wheeler Creek. The fire edge nearest to Pistol River and Meadow Creek became active, crossed direct line but was stopped at the contingency lines. Direct line and contingency lines continue to be constructed, using helicopters and retardant drops when conditions allow. Firing operations may be conducted to secure perimeter.

Tuesday, fire crews began fireline construction in steep, rocky areas along the ridge west of the headwaters of Parker Creek. To access the remote area, two crews established a short-term spike camp to reduce the amount of travel time from fire camp at Lake Selmac. The establishment of the spike camp will increase the amount of line constructed during daylight hours. Food and supplies were inserted by helicopter to establish spike camp. East of the fire, dozers are completing one full pass of fireline construction to the north to a point just short of Bear Camp on Forest Service Road 23.

Today, fire crews plan to scout fireline locations on the ridge near Buckskin Peak. Hand crews continue brushing out old Biscuit fireline from Tennessee Pass north around the west side of Tennessee Mountain. Heavy equipment continues reopening firelines to the north and hand crews follow removing snags and brush. Protection of the Illinois River Road using a masticator is nearly complete. Available hand crews are following the dozers to strengthen the lines by removing brush and downed fuel.

Data collection is continuing on the western portion of the fire’s perimeter for repair of suppression damage. Patrol and mop continues all along the western side of the fire. 

Smoke impacts continue to be light to moderate in communities surrounding the fire but overall, air quality has improved.

Level 1 and Level 2 evacuation orders remain for portions of Brookings-Harbor and the Upper Winchuck areas. Level 3 evacuations remain for areas within the fire perimeter. Forest area, road and trail closures are still in effect. For further information, click here.

Cooler temperatures will begin today, with higher humidities. A morning inversion will likely trap smoke below 2000 feet in drainages but should start to lift around midday. Winds will be light in the morning and then become more terrain driven with north-northeast winds at the ridgetops. The fire area will experience moderate to good nighttime humidity recovery, and relative humidities will be in the 31-42% range today and up to 95% at night, with temperatures 75-84. Thursday will bring temperatures 66-78, with daytime humidities 29-40%. 

The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation has had a long-established evacuation shelter for displaced residents of the Chetco Bar fire. Located at the former Ship Ashore resort in the Smith River, CA area, many volunteers have been hard at work for over a month, providing free meals and RV and tent camping for local residents who have been evacuated from their homes due to the fire.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPT. 12 ... Yesterday brought moderate fire growth and activity at the Chetco Bar fire as a result of high temperatures, low humidities, and gusty winds. The warm and dry trend affecting the fire area is expected to decline tomorrow, with cooler temperatures in the forecast. The fire stands at 184,292 acres and is 8 percent contained.

There will be a community fire briefing in Agness on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Agness Community Building, 3927 Cougar Ln, Agness, OR 97406.

Firefighters on all sides of the fire have been actively engaged, prioritizing safety and operational effectiveness. Fire activity has been characterized by smoldering, backing, and creeping. Active ground fire was reported in scattered areas from the Pistol River to east of the Winchuck River. 

Today will be a good day for aviation operations, as the marine layer will be absent and inversion should lift by mid-morning. Contingency lines will continue to be constructed, while fire activity on the south and west sides will be targeted using helicopters and retardant drops. Fire crews will continue to take advantage of favorable weather in order to contain and hold fireline closest to areas with the highest values at risk.

Four hand crews and two dozers will open roads adjacent to the Indigo Fire and identify containment lines to surround it. On the rocky ridge between Parker and Josephine Creeks, handline construction will continue to tie together dozer lines. A spike camp is being set up for firefighters to stay in this area. A spike camp allows firefighters to get adequate rest, meals, and supplies without having to travel long distances to the main fire camp. Handline work will also continue around Tennessee Mountain. Dozers continue to push fireline construction farther north into the Chrome Ridge and Silver Creek areas

Tuesday is the final day of the warm and dry trend, and will bring temperatures in the low to mid-eighties for the west side of the fire. The marine layer will be absent this morning but should return as humidities rise and temperatures decline throughout the week. The fire area will experience moderate to good nighttime humidity recovery, and relative humidities will be in the 25-30% range today, and 60% at night. <p>Wednesday will bring temperatures in the high 70’s, with 35% humidities that will rise to 75% at night. A sustained NE wind of 5-6 mph is expected Tuesday with gusts up to 12 mph. Wind speed will decrease Wednesday, shifting to NNE at a sustained 5 mph, gusting to 10 mph.

Smoke has again drained down valley into communities on the north and west sides of the Chetco Bar Fire overnight and heavy smoke impacts are being seen locally this morning. Light northeast winds today will continue to drift moderate smoke into coastal areas such as Brookings and Gold Beach by this afternoon before heavy smoke sinks back in overnight tonight. Inland communities, such as Cave Junction, Medford will continue to see moderate to heavy smoke through the day.

Level 3 evacuation orders for areas outside the fire perimeter were reduced to Level 2 as of Friday at 11 am. Residents are urged to remain prepared to evacuate should the need arise.

UPDATE: MONDAY, SEPT. 11 ...  Sunday’s Chetco Bar fire activity was mostly smoldering, creeping, and backing. There was only 60 acres of growth over the whole fire, bringing the total area burned to 184, 267 acres. The fire remains 5 percent contained. 

Aerial observers report the most activity and smoke on the northern parts of the fire and minimal fire activity on the eastern flank, with very little open flame. Overnight relative humidity did not drop as low as expected, keeping morning fire activity minimal. 

Fire crews continue to make progress tying together long sections of old Biscuit Fire dozer-built containment lines between the fire and Highway 199, totaling approximately 50 miles of completed fire line. Hand line work has progressed in steep rocky terrain between Josephine Creek and Parker Creek. Fire line has been extended in the Silver Creek area on the northeast side of the fire. Work using masticating equipment to clear vegetation along Illinois River Road is nearly complete. Structure protection work, like brush removal and improving road access, has been completed around the communication sites at Eight Dollar Mountain. 

Today, temperatures are expected to reach a high point for the week at around 90-95 degrees with minimum relative humidity in the teens. Winds are forecast at 5-10 mph and will be out of the northeast. These conditions along with drying fuels will likely influence more active fire behavior than yesterday, with the possibility of short uphill runs if fuel conditions allow. 

Hand crews will continue work today closing small gaps in the fire lines on the eastern flank around Parker Creek headwaters, Tennessee Mountain, and Josephine Creek. Masticator equipment will remove roadside vegetation in the Rough and Ready Flat area and to the south. Dozers continue pushing to the north, reopening fire lines from the 2002 Biscuit Fire. Initial attack crews will respond to new starts and spot fires. 

Smoke production is expected to increase today. NE winds will push smoke toward the coastal areas of Gold Beach, Brookings and south into NW California. Highway 101 and local roadways may see reduced visibility in these areas. Moderate to heavy smoke impacts are expected for inland communities surrounding the Chetco Bar fire today. Cave Junction, Grants Pass and areas east of Medford are expected to experience a slow rise in smoke conditions. An air quality alert is in effect for Curry and Josephine counties until noon Monday. For current air quality information and forecasts go to http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com. 

Level 3 evacuation orders for areas outside the fire perimeter were reduced to Level 2 as of Friday at 11 am. Residents are urged to remain prepared to evacuate should the need arise. Many areas and activities are closed or restricted due to current and expected fire activity and hazard. More details are available on https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/5385/ People can view maps of the current Evacuation Notification areas at http://arcg.is/1LmzPe. By typing their address into the search bar on the upper right, they can see where their home is located in relation to the current Evacuation warnings. 

UPDATE: FRIDAY, SEPT. 8 ... As much as an inch of rain fell on parts of the Chetco Bar fire yesterday and overnight. That moisture -- and the lower temperatures and increased humidity that accompanied it -- had a major dampening effect. The fire has held at 177,301 acres and remains 5 percent contained

But fire managers caution that fine fuels will dry out quickly when higher temperatures return and that the fire is far from finished.

Still, the change in weather gives fire crews an advantage that they intend to press over the next few days to make progress on containing this fire.

Yesterday, poor visibility associated with the weather prevented aircraft (including last night’s scheduled infrared flight) from operating. Firefighters on the northwest fire perimeter were successful in getting containment lines around about 75% of the spot fires caused by the winds a few days prior.

With the weather reducing the intensity of the fire, crews working on the western perimeter were able to move in closer to the fire’s edge and build more direct containment lines. On the southwest edge, operations continued to hold and improve firelines while at the same time deploying more hose lines to be used in securing those lines. The north side was able to connect and tie in to lines in Josephine County to the east. Scouting and constructing firelines to the south into California continues. The recent rain and high humidity levels delayed implementing strategic burning operations that would consume fuel between the main fire and containment lines; adding depth and strengthening existing lines.

Today, moderated weather is allowing for further strengthening of containment lines as well as opportunities to move in closer to the fire perimeter, thereby reducing potential impacts to nearby private lands. Firefighters will continue to remove brush and vegetation along containment and contingency lines, and ensure that hoselays are in place and functioning properly. Ongoing efforts include patrols for spot fires, extinguishing areas of heat within spot fires, fireline construction and, where containment lines have been secured by mop-up, fireline repair work (re-contouring lines to mitigate water runoff).

Evacuations remain in Curry and Josephine County and will be evaluated daily. Residents are encouraged to monitor the interactive evacuation map for changes.

Shelters: The Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is operating a shelter at the Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village & Resort (old Ship Ashore) RV Park located at 12370 Highway 101 North in Smith River.

Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskiyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place.

There is a Community Meeting planned for Sunday, September 10 at 6:00 pm at the Cave Junction High School. People are encouraged to attend to receive an update on fire activity and to talk to fire managers about their strategies and effort.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, SEPT. 7 ... Thunderstorms brought widespread rain that briefly cleared the air Wednesday evening, and helped slow the advance of the Chetco Bar fire.  According to an infrared (heat detecting) flight last night, the fire is at 177,301 acres, an increase of 530 acres from the last measurement. It is generally located in Curry County, but enters Josephine County at the north end of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and at the headwaters of Canyon Creek, south of Babyfoot Lake on the east. The fire is eight miles west of the National Forest’s eastern boundary.

Current operational work makes deliberate use of successful firefighting strategies from the Biscuit Fire in 2002. Initiated August 31, as the fire started nudging toward the ridgeline that marks the Curry-Josephine County border, current work includes protecting homes and structures along the Illinois Valley Road and constructing fire containment lines well west of the communities along Hwy 199.

There are approximately 40 structures along the Illinois River Road within the Rogue River - Siskiyou National Forest boundary west of Selma, such as Store Gulch, McCaleb Ranch and Oak Flat. These buildings have been receiving protection from future fire through common “Firewise” strategies such as removing nearby vegetation, firewood, and other flammable items, enhanced with firefighting preparedness techniques such as installing hose lines and sprinklers. Although many of these buildings have received attention in the past, vegetation grows back and improvements were needed. This work is 90% completed, with additional effort planned at Store Gulch today.

Today, five dozers will continue to increase and join the segments of containment line. Fallers remove nearby snags to secure these lines, increasing safety for firefighting efforts and effectiveness of fire barriers. Three 20-person hand crews follow the dozers to ensure that smaller brush gets cleaned away. Aircraft operations have been limited due to weather and smoke. If helicopters can safely fly, reconnaissance of the fire’s position and assessing protection needs at Pearsoll Peak Lookout and communication sites at Eight Dollar Mtn and Fiddler Mtn are priorities.

As more containment lines are completed and fire behavior moderates, more direct fireline routes will be sought from safe anchor points, closer to the areas that are currently burning.

Cool weather is forecast with temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s, and humidity over 50%. Winds from the W-NW will generally not be strong (4-8 mph, with gusts to 12 mph). Fire behavior will moderate, but remains variable because rain did not penetrate and wet all parts of the fire and fine fuels such as leaf litter will dry quickly. Short uphill runs can occur where winds and uphill slopes align. Spotting is not expected. The weather will become hotter and drier starting Saturday and Sunday.

Heavy smoke has affected many parts of Josephine County for many days.Today’s smoke level in Grants Pass is forecast as “very unhealthy” indicating that everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion. Public information about forest fires and smoke conditions is available at http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.

Closures and Restrictions: Many areas and activities are closed or restricted due to current and expected fire activity and hazard. Full details are available on https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/5385/

In Josephine County, a Level 1 “Ready” Evacuation Notification affects private and BLM land on the west side of Hwy 199 from Hays Hill to the California border. This action is intended to raise awareness of fire in the vicinity and get people thinking about necessary steps they’d take if later asked to evacuate. Ten miles along the Illinois River Road from the National Forest boundary two miles west of Selma to Oak Flats is under Level 3 “Go” Evacuation Notification. Residents were advised to leave this area and it is closed to everyone except firefighting personnel. 

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 6 ... Firefighters took advantage of the cooler temperatures and increased humidity levels that slowed the spread of the Chetco Bar fire on Tuesday. The fire has burned 176,770 acres and is 5 percent contained.

Improved air quality on the western flank gave helicopters more opportunities to perform bucket drops, helping to further slow the spread of the fire. Crews have made good progress and have completed the structure preparation work in the Oak Flats in Josephine County. On the western flank of the fire, crews secured spots from previous day’s fire runs and continue line prep to the north toward Snowcamp.

Today, line construction will continue; connecting dozer lines and roads into the Pistol River. Firefighters are patrolling for spot fires, providing structure protection and maintaining hoselays along firelines. With the help of dozers, they are re-establishing containment lines previously used during the Biscuit fire.

As weather and fuel moistures allow, firefighters will strengthen containment lines by using fire to consume ground vegetation between the main fire and containment lines. Considerations factored into decisions about burning include resources available, predicted and current weather, and terrain, along with the type and moisture level of vegetation. If the opportunity presents itself today, firefighters will implement this tactic in the Winchuck drainage.

Cal Fire resources have begun creating contingency lines to the south in California. Resources will continue to prioritize, contain and mop up spot fires to lessen the threat to values at risk.

A red flag warning is in effect through Wednesday for abundant lightning in areas of dry vegetation. New fire starts from lighting, along with gusty and erratic winds near the storm area, are a concern. Embers have the potential to carry up to 1/3 of a mile from the main fire. Improved humidity recovery overnight and a 15 percent chance of wetting rain are predicted for today. While the amount of rain forecast may moderate fire behavior, it would not be enough to extinguish the Chetco Bar Fire.

Evacuations remain in Curry and Josephine County and will be evaluated daily. Residents are encouraged to monitor the interactive evacuation map for changes: http://arcg.is/2vWQN2N

The Red Cross evacuation center is located at the Nazarene Church at 1600 Chetco Ave. in Brookings, OR (541)-600-6068. Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is also operating a shelter at The Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village & Resort (old Ship Ashore) RV Park located at 12370 Highway 101 North in Smith River.

Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place: http://bit.ly/2erUN5B.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPT. 5 ... Neighborhoods in both Josephine and Curry County received Level 3 ("GO!") evacuation orders Monday, after hot, gusty weather drove the Chetco Bar fire across containment lines. 

The fire has burned 176,770 acres since it was initially reported on July 12. It is 5 percent contained.

On Monday, numerous spot fires were ignited by embers being cast across containment lines. The east side of the fire pushed 4.5 miles to the south and east prompting increased evacuation levels on Illinois River Road. Fire activity on the west flank led to a change from level 2 to level 3 in some areas.

Multiple air resources, including a heavy helitanker, took advantage of the improved visibility to aid firefighting operations. Good progress was made on the Illinois river road and crews wrapped approximately 80 percent of the structures in that area. 

Today, fire crews will continue to identify, prioritize, and suppress or contain spot fires while holding and improving existing containment lines. In addition to fireline construction, the direct and indirect fireline work includes crews and dozers improving, or reopening, fireline that was constructed 15 years ago during the Biscuit fire and improving roads to be used as containment lines.

To stop or slow fire growth, crews may strategically burn the vegetation between the main fire and containment lines. These operations would include careful consideration of terrain, vegetation, and predicted fire weather. Structure protection will continue in the Josephine County Oak Flat area. Two additional Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshall task forces will be arriving to join in structural fire suppression efforts. An incident management team will begin to arrive and will be taking command of the east side of the fire over the next couple of days.

Thick and heavy smoke this morning will again lay low in communities surrounding the Chetco Bar fire. Through today, light southwest winds will drift smoke inland giving coastal areas a reprieve. In the Brookings and Gold Beach area, moderate smoke impacts are expected by this afternoon before heavy smoke sinks back in overnight tonight. Inland communities, such as Cave Junction will continue to see very heavy smoke through the day and tonight.

A slight rise in humidity and decrease in temperatures is predicted over the next few days. Winds out of the southwest may help to help clear some of the smoke this afternoon. Moisture is expected to begin moving into the area, becoming more abundant Wednesday into Thursday; however, the potential for thunderstorms is a concern for Wednesday afternoon and evening. The potential for very active fire behavior still exists today, torching and crown runs are possible and spot fires may ignite up to three tenths of a mile from the main fire.

In Josephine county, a level 3 evacuation order is in place for all residents on Illinois River road within the Forest Service boundaries, including the Oak Flat community. A level 3 evacuation is also in affect in Curry county along the Carpenterville Road, north of the Cape Ferrelo Road intersection to the Carpenterville Road and Bosley Butte Road intersection. A Level 1 evacuation order has been issued for the residents of the Illinois Valley west of Highway 199 from Hayes Hill to the California state line.

The Red Cross evacuation shelter is in Gold Beach at the Curry County Fairgrounds is relocating to the Nazarene Church 1600 Chetco Ave in Brookings, OR (541)-600-6068. Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is also operating a shelter at The Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village & Resort (old Ship Ashore) RV Park located at 12370 Highway 101 North in Smith River.

Residents are encouraged to monitor the interactive evacuation map for changes: http://arcg.is/2vWQN2N 

Closures: Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place: http://bit.ly/2erUN5B.

UPDATE: FRIDAY, SEPT. 1 ... Hot, dry and gusty weather continues to fan the Chetco Bar fire, which has burned 131,197 acres northeast of Brookings in Curry County, Oregon since it started on July 12. The fire is currently 10 percent contained.

Yesterday, active fire growth continued on the north, south and east perimeter. The fire continued eastward into areas previously during the 2002 Biscuit Fire. A smoke column developed on the southeast corner of the fire, rising up to 10,000 feet. 

Aircraft dropped retardant and water along the southwest and western portions of the fire. Firefighters continued constructing direct and indirect line along the northwest and south flanks of the fire. Oregon State Fire Marshal task forces finished preparing structures in the Winchuck and Pistol River areas.

Gusty, offshore winds are expected to continue this morning. The forecast is for critical fire weather and the potential for extreme fire behavior due to low relative humidity and high temperatures with unstable atmospheric conditions. Significant perimeter growth and smoke column development are possible. Winds have the potential to carry embers seven tenths of a mile or more. 

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for critical fire weather Friday afternoon. There is an Excessive Heat Warning through Labor Day for temperatures significantly above normal. 

Today, on the west and northwest side of the fire, crews continue mopup where fire has been contained while constructing direct and indirect lines northeast toward Snow Camp along the Pistol River.

On the south end of the fire, below Emily Creek, crews are securing anchor points, using existing road networks to check fire growth. Tactical patrols on the southwest and western perimeter of the fire continue. Aircraft will assist with suppression work as visibility and weather allow. 

On the eastern flank, firefighters are opening fire lines previously constructed during the 2002 Biscuit Fire. Crews will also assess structures along the Illinois River just east of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. 

Smoke production is expected to be significantly today. Light Northeast winds will drift smoke toward coastal areas into Gold Beach, Brookings and far South into NW California. Highway 101 and local roadways will see reduced visibility in these areas.

Smoke: A light sea breeze later today is expected to give some reprieve to coastal communities this afternoon. In the Agness, Cave Junction, and Grants Pass regions, heavy smoke impacts are expected to remain as smoke from several fires drain into these communities.

Evacuations: At 9:30 PM last night, Curry County Sheriff’s Office expanded the Level 2 Evacuation Order to include all areas along Winchuck River Road east of, and including, Peavine Ridge Road. 

The Red Cross evacuation shelter is in Gold Beach at the Curry County Fairgrounds showcase building, 29392 Ellensburg Avenue.

Tolowa Dee-ni’Nation is also operating a shelter at The Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village & Resort (old Ship Ashore) RV Park located at 12370 Highway 101 North in Smith River. Residents are encouraged to monitor the interactive evacuation map for changes.

Closures: There are no closures on Highway 101 through Brookings. Local businesses, restaurants, and lodging establishments in Brookings and Harbor remain open for business.

Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, AUG. 31 ... Several areas of the Chetco Bar fire were active on the north, south and east perimeter yesterday. The fire pushed eastward toward the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary into brushy vegetation north of Pearsoll Peak, in a portion of the area previously burned during the 2002 Biscuit Fire.

Favorable visibility provided opportunities for aerial support as firefighters completed significant work along the northwest and south flanks of the fire.

Crews connected old dozer lines and strengthened fire lines directly along the perimeter of the west flank.

Today: Oregon State Fire Marshal task forces continue assessing structures inthe Winchuck and Pistol River areas; preparing them for the possibility of fire being pushed into the area by the coming winds. South of the fire, crews will work on constructing alternate lines and tying in the section where fire crossed Emily Creek. On the northwest perimeter, crews will bring line north to steer fire north and east. A contingent of firefighters will work from a remote camp near Agness; reducing travel time. On the eastern flank, firefighters are looking for opportunities to use fire line previously constructed during the 2002 Biscuit Fire while assessing structures along the Illinois River just east of the Wilderness.

Weather and Fire Behavior: Gusty, offshore winds will continue into Thursday night and Friday morning while relative humidity falls to very low levels. This will be followed by a prolonged hot and dry spell with poor relative humidity recovery.

The weekend weather forecast indicates critical fire weather and the potential for extreme fire behavior. Significant perimeter growth and smoke column development are possible. Winds have the potential to carry embers seven tenths of a mile. 

Evacuations: Evacuations are in place in Curry County. They are being continually evaluated and adjusted to reflect developing conditions and resource availability. Red Cross is moving its evacuation shelter in Gold Beach to the Curry County Fairgrounds showcase building at 29392 Ellensburg Avenue. Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation is also operating a shelter at The Xaa-wan’-k’wvt Village & Resort (old Ship Ashore) RV Park located at 12370 Highway 101 North in Smith River.

Residents are encouraged to monitor the interactive evacuation map for changes: http://arcg.is/2vWQN2N

 

Area Closure Information: Several large wildfires are burning in southwest Oregon. Area closures have been implemented on the Rogue River – Siskyou National Forest and BLM lands. Fire restrictions are in place: http://bit.ly/2erUN5B.

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.

Level 1, 2, and 3 Evacuation Levels are in effect for the Chetco Bar Fire. A map of the evacuation area can be viewed here. Residents can sign up for an emergency alert system here .

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/

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.

Safety Message:

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.