Wildfire Update 2017

Chetco Bar Fire Is A Sleeping Giant — For Now

1 hour ago
NW IMT No. 13/Inciweb

“It seems like the fire went to sleep,” said Cave Junction resident Heather Newman, as she examined a fire map Sunday night during a community meeting held at Illinois Valley High School. “I just hope this sleeping giant doesn’t wake up.”

California Wildfire Roundup For Sept. 12

7 hours ago
B. Patton

This is the place to get links to updates on evacuations, road closures and other relevant information on wildfires currently burning in JPR's listening area in northern California.

Oregon Wildfire Roundup For Sept. 12

7 hours ago

This is the place to get links to updates on evacuations, road closures and other relevant information on wildfires currently burning in JPR's listening area in Oregon.

Nighthawk via inciweb.nwcg.gov

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.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPT. 12 ... Yesterday's hotter, dryer weather stimulated fire activity,  which meant more smoke in the air throughout the region. In fact, there were no "GOOD" AQI readings in the Oregon side of JPR's listening area this morning (though there were a few in northern California). On the other hand, there were hardly any areas with "UNHEALTHY" AQI readings.

In either case, weather forecasters are calling for a cooling trend with the possibility of rain later this week, so this decline in air quality may be temporary. 

Fingers crossed!

 UPDATE (Sunday 5 p.m. PST): The man-made Eagle Creek Fire has brought the Columbia River Gorge to a standstill since it ignited Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. That's not expected to change anytime soon.

The Oregon Department of Transportation announced Sunday evening Interstate 84 through the Gorge, closed since Monday, Sept. 4, will remain closed for at least another week — "the minimum time required to complete rock removal," the agency said in a press release. The Historic Columbia River Highway also remains closed, with no current schedule to reopen.

The Chetco Bar Fire is now burning more than 175,000 acres in the mountains near the coastal Oregon town of Brookings. The good news is that a break in the weather fueled by the remnants of Tropical Storm Lidia should give fire crews a chance to catch up.

Southwest Oregon has seen months of high temperatures and little-to-no rain, creating ripe conditions for fire starts. One of the ways fire managers determine how fire-prone an area is, is a measure called the energy release component, or ERC. 

Oregon smoke blog

There's no escaping the smoke of late.  As August rolled into September, smoke from wildfires hung heavy in the valleys of the region, driving air quality numbers into the unhealthy range. 

The problem with smoke is that such small particles--2.5 microns and smaller--is that the lungs don't easily expel them. 

Dr. Berta Baldovino from Providence Health knows the lungs and their irritants. 

The Chetco Bar Fire in southwest Oregon has been burning since July. It's now scorched about 118-,000 acres and it’s still completely uncontained. Last week it was designated the nation’s top priority wildfire.

The megafire is still burning just five miles outside the coastal city of Brookings. OPB/EarthFix reporter Jes Burns is on the scene asking questions and getting answers.

What’s The Status This Afternoon Of Both The Fire And The Evacuations It’s Caused?


The fire situation continues to grind on day after day, with evacuation orders in effect in several places, and smoke nearly everywhere. 

Several agencies joined forces to establish a Joint Information Center on the fires in Southwest Oregon, including the Chetco Bar Fire threatening Brookings. 

The creation of the JIC is a rare move, and one that underscores the severity of the fire season. 

Hot, dry weather Sunday on the southern Oregon coast made it difficult for fire crews to stop the spread of the Chetco Bar Fire. Fire crews were refocused to keep it from creeping closer to coastal communities.

Residents of the coastal town of Brookings have been dealing with smoke and evacuation warnings for weeks now. Hundreds of them gathered Sunday evening at Brookings-Harbor High School to learn the latest on the fire burning just a few miles from town.

The Chetco Bar Fire burning about 5 miles from the coastal community of Brookings, Oregon, has in some ways redefined the role of the local school district's superintendent.

The Brookings-Harbor School District is the closest school district to the nation's top priority fire. That proximity is why district superintendent Sean Gallagher regularly attends morning briefings with firefighters and fire managers.


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.


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

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 ... Activity on the Miller Complex fires -- burning in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest -- were limited yesterday by overall cooler temperatures due to inversion, smoke cover, and higher humidity. These conditions have resulted in good progress with fire containment and mop-up efforts.


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

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 ... In the High Cascades Complex, fire growth was seen on Blanket Creek Fire, crossing the Pacific Crest Trail in the Sky Lakes Wilderness south of Crater Lake National Park. The weather pattern is preventing smoke from dispersing which has resulted in multiple days of very unhealthy conditions for several locations.

T. Richey via inciweb.nwcg.gov

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

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 ... The Eclipse Complex consists of five fires in the Klamath National Forest. The fires have burned a total of 37,445 acres; the complex is 19% contained, with 1,130 personnel assigned. 

Update On A Brisk Fire Season

Aug 22, 2017
National Interagency Fire Center

So much for thinking that an abnormally wet year would mean an abnormally quiet fire season. 

Even the slowly creeping fires of mid-July have become the roaring infernos (see Chetco Bar) of late August. 

UPDATE (Aug. 28, 2017, 9:13 a.m. P.T.) After a rainy, cool winter and spring, this year's fire season kicked off June 7 in southern Oregon.


FINAL UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUG. 15 ...  Fire officials have declared the Flounce Fire near Prospect,  OR, to be 90 percent contained. Final measurement of the fire sizes it at 587 acres; firefighters were finally able to safely walk the perimeter yesterday and complete the mapping and measuring of the fire. All evacuations have been lifted. 

CalFire, via Google Maps

High temperatures, dry conditions and possible lightning storms are setting the stage for a potential spike in wildfire activity in parts of southern Oregon and northern California this week, according to the National Weather Service.