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Labor Day no holiday for 1,000s of Oregon firefighters

Published On: Sep 02 2012 08:55:18 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 04 2012 12:26:17 AM CDT
Cache Creek firefighter Gaeten

Gaeten/InciWeb

Firefighter on Cache Creek blaze in NE Oregon watches for any spotting across the line

It's been a lot of tough labor and no holiday weekend for thousands of firefighters still battling several of the wildfires that have devoured hundreds of thousands of acres across Oregon in recent weeks.

Here's an update on some of the major blazes burning around the state; check the latest information at http://www.inciweb.org/state/38/ :

Waterfalls 2:  Crews completed the mop-up standard of 300 feet Sunday, along with dealing with a couple smokes in division A and B of the 12,265-acre fire 22 miles west of Warm Springs. The firefighting force had dropped to about 300 Monday night as they now have the fire 85 percent contained.

Division D had a smoke about 400 feet in from the line and was also taken care of. Over 25 miles of fire line have been completed, officials said Monday. All equipment has been back hauled from the three spike camps.

Command was transferred to a Type III team from Warm Springs at 6 a.m. Monday.  Jabbar Davis, Incident Commander (IC), will assume command of the Type III team. Gary Sampson Jr is assigned as IC trainee.

There are still several unburned areas within the interior of the fire perimeter, so fire managers warned to expect some intense burning within these areas until wet or winter weather arrives.

As humidities drop in the afternoon fire activity will increase. Night-time inversions may trap smoke in the valleys until around noon each day.

Objectives for the Type III team are fire fighter safety and continued mop up operations. As mop up is completed in division,s haul back of equipment will begin. There are over six miles of hose in the Whitewater drainage alone.

Some area and tribal road closures remain in place.

Parish Cabin: The Parish Cabin Fire, located 15 miles northeast of Seneca, was reported Aug. 28 near the intersection of Forest Roads 15 and 16.

More than 900 firefighters are on the lines of the human-caused 6,475-acre blaze, which by Monday moved to 40 percent containment, with full containment expected in a week.

Efforts in the Dark Canyon area were successful Sunday in tying lines together and fortifying existing containment lines. Firefighters working the fire perimeter are holding containment lines, patrolling and responding to spot fires, and doing mop-up.

“Be aware while out on the forest and be on the lookout for any issues that may be unsafe or cause a fire.” advised Jeff Pendleton, Malheur National Forest fire staff officer. “Do not discard cigarettes, matches, or smoking materials from moving vehicles, or anywhere on public lands.”

If camping in a designated recreation site, never leave a campfire unattended and, completely extinguish the fire — by dousing it with water and stirring the ashes until cold — before sleeping or leaving the campsite.

Malheur National Forest offices in John Day, Burns/Hines, and Prairie City were open Monday to assist visitors and residents with fire information and maps of the area.

With increased fire equipment activity in the area, drivers are asked to please use caution while traveling on Highway 395 between John Day and Seneca.

An area closure is in effect to provide for firefighter and public safety, and includes portions of several Forest Service roads. Closure maps and area descriptions are available at Malheur National Forest offices and also at http://inciweb.org/incident/3216/.

Officials would like to inform hunters that for their safety, they need to remain clear of the fire closure area, and should make plans for alternate hunts as this area may remain closed for an extended period of time.

Cache Creek: About 73,500 acres in and near the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area of northeast Oregon have burned, despite the best efforts of nearly 450 firefighters who as of Monday night had the blaze 90 percent contained. The Central Oregon Incident Management Team led by Mark Rapp has been leading that firefight against a lightning-sparked blaze they hope to contain by Sept. 15.

Slate Creek: The new Slate Creek fire was reported Monday burning in timber and brush about 13 miles west of Grants Pass. The size of the fire Monday afternoon was estimated at 120 acres, burning on BLM lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Several helicopters and air tankers were dropping water and retardant on the fire scene, assisting the ground attack provided by eight ODF engines, three 20-person crews, one water tender and three bulldozers. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The fire was west of Hwy 199 and north of Hayes Hill. Waters Creek and Slate Creek roads were closed to non-emergency traffic. The ODF's Grants Pass Unit was managing the fire, and roadblocks were being staffed by Josephine County sheriff's deputies. Douglas Forest Protective Association and the U.S. Forest Service were assisting with fire resources.

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