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As Pole Creek still burns, wildfire threat lingers

By KTVZ.COM news sources
Published On: Oct 05 2012 05:27:22 PM CDT
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Fire managers throughout Oregon are feeling the heat -- or you could put it this way: Fall has arrived, but summer didn't get the memo.

Continued hot, dry weather is plaguing the region that could lead to a significant fire from a single spark.

A warm east wind event contributed to several fires Wednesday afternoon and evening. Fire crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry, forest protective associations and rural fire departments worked overtime to contain grass and brush fires throughout the state fueled by winds in excess of 20 mph.

A Red Flag Warning for high winds and low humidity will continue through Saturday for much of western Oregon.

ODF and the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal issued a reminder Friday that outdoor debris burning remains prohibited in most areas throughout the state during this period of high fire danger.

Campfires, while only allowed in designated campgrounds, should not be built at all under the current conditions.

In addition, motor vehicles are only allowed on improved roads that are free of flammable vegetation.

For a complete list of restrictions in specific areas, log on to www.oregon.gov/ODF.

Private forest landowners are also well aware of the lingering fire danger, and many have closed their lands to public access. Sportsmen are encouraged to seek landowner permission for access in advance. A list of corporate land closures can also be found at www.oregon.gov/ODF.

Fire weather forecasters are predicting this continued warm and dry spell over the next two weeks. Fire season will remain in effect until significant precipitation occurs where the threat of a fire starting is close to nil.

The east side of the nearly month-old Pole Creek Fire southwest of Sisters was relatively calm Thursday, as crews have completed most of the fire suppression objectives, officials said Friday morning.

Very few smokes were observed Thursday near the fire perimeter. Crews will continue to patrol the area for the next few days.

All of the planned fire line construction has been completed. Along the northern edge of the fire, excess fire hose and equipment will be back-hauled to camp and eventually returned to the Redmond Fire Cache. This area will be in a patrol status.

The heavy-lift helicopter has been released from the fire and the remaining two medium-lift helicopters will support suppression operations during the next few days.

Fewer helicopter missions were flown Thursday, and fire managers are expecting the same during the next few days. Only minimal smoke in dispersed areas was reported yesterday, mostly interior to the main fire.

The high temperature expected Friday may reach 47 degrees, and the relative humidity (the amount of moisture in the air) is predicted to be 38%. Winds should be 4 to 8 miles per hour sustained, and ridge top winds up to 10 miles per hour are expected.

The 10-day weather outlook calls for above-average temperatures with a below-average chance of precipitation.

There still may be periods of time when smoke concentrations become uncomfortable. Those with respiratory issues may wish to consult the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality website for tips on smoke mitigation, http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/wildfire/index.htm.

An area around the fire remains closed to public access during fire suppression activities. Included in this area are Forest Road 16 (Three Creek Lake), Forest Road 15 (Pole Creek Road), and a portion of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST). A reroute is in place for that portion of the PCNST that is closed.

Please refer to the website: www.inciweb.org/incident/3244 for further fire and closure information, including maps and photos.

Residents are reminded that we are still in fire season and this fire is not fully contained. Due to hunters in the forest and continued dry conditions, there is a concern for new fire starts. If you are traveling in the forest, be aware of current fire restrictions and stay alert.

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