Wednesday, August 13, 2014

South Fork Complex Fire Update 8/13/2014 ^NH

Rain moderated fire behavior on Tuesday and, as opportunities presented themselves, firefighters took advantage of conditions to build direct fireline on portions of the north, east and south perimeters. 
Fire behavior is not the only obstacle to building direct fireline however; there are hazards associated with accessibility, terrain, and snags weakened by previous fires.  In those areas, firefighters will have to wait for the fuels to dry and come back into prescription before they can burn-out to strengthen containment lines.
Night shift focused their efforts in along the southeast perimeter again yesterday. 
Two seasonal cabins that burned during earlier days of the incident were located by firefighters and landowners have been notified.
Air support was active over the fire as conditions allowed.
Weather and Fire Behavior
Weather Stations recorded about .15 inches of rain across the fire on Tuesday.  Isolated thunderstorms are predicted to continue through Thursday.  Temperatures today should be in the 60-70 degree range and relative humidity is expected to be up to 40%. 
Even with the rain, the fire continues to smolder and creep.
Today’s Operations
Where conditions permit, firefighters are “going direct”, taking advantage of the moderated fire behavior to build and strengthen fireline directly along the fire edge.  The northwest edge of the fire, on Oliver Ridge, is one such location.  Firefighters have tied the line down to the South Fork of the John Day River.  Today, air support will fly in a portable tank and pump to support mop-up which will strengthen the containment line. 
The northeast perimeter is an area where firefighting efforts are hindered by the rains.  “There isn’t enough rain to put the fire out, especially this early in the season,” said Incident Commander Ed Lewis.  “But it is enough to keep us from accomplishing the burnout needed to strengthen firelines in areas where direct tactics wouldn’t be successful.”
The western edge of the fire, along the South Fork of the John Day River is holding in place.  Firefighters continue to mop-up and patrol; securing anchor points at the north and south ends.
Closures and Evacuations
A level 1 evacuation remains in effect for the area south of Highway 26, west of Road 21 (Fields Creek) and east of Road 42 (South Fork of the John Day River).  A level 1 evacuation is also in place for the area south of Deer Creek and east of the South Fork of the John Day River.
A closure is in place on the Malheur National Forest and the Ochoco National Forest surrounding the fires. All roads and trails are closed within the closure area. Closure information is available online at

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