6 Western blazes contained
Daniel B. Wheeler
dwheeler at ipns.com
Tue Aug 21 23:30:48 EST 2001
>From The Oregonian, Aug. 21, 2001, p A1
Fire crews say 6 blazes contained
Three more Northwest fires may be controlled soon, thanks to helpful
weather, but "things will get rougher in a few days"
By JONATHAN BRINCKMAN, The Oregonian
Nearly 12,000 firefighters turned the corner Monday on nine large
blazes across Oregon and Washington, taking advantage of cooler
weather and preparing for the likelihood of new flare-ups this week,
when temperatures are predicted to soar again.
"We're trying to make as much headway as possible today," said Davie
Widmark, a spokesman at the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center
in Portland. "Things will get rougher in a few days."
Officials Monday said six large wildfires in the two states were 100
percent contained. they said they expected to contain three others in
Oregon by Monday night or later this week, including the 6,000-acre
Quartz fire near Ashland and the 2,500-acre Olallie Lake Complex east
of the Cascade Mountains.
Evacuation orders were lifted outside the Washington tourist town of
Leavenworth as parts of the 6,875-acre Icicle Complex fire were
brought under control.
"We're much more confident about the fire not coming down the
valley," said Chelan County Fire Chief Doug Devore. Evacuation orders
were lifted for 50 homes whose back yards the fire had approached,
although 18 families still were not being allowed to return.
Despite the successes, 21 large wildfires still burned across
386,328 acres of Oregon and Washington on Monday. "The Pacific
Northwest is still a huge concern," said Rob Kopack, a spokesman at
the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.
Officials in Oregon were most worried about the Horse Creek fire and
Monument Complex in the Northeast corner of the state. Crews scraped
and burned a perimeter around the town of Monument, keeping a
28,717-acre fire from homes in the area. The fire was 55 percent
contained, but structures were still threatened and the blaze remained
a top priority for fighters.
Eight helicopters attacked the Mallory fire, part of the Monument
Complex. Helicopters lined up in the air over the North Fork of the
John Day River, waiting to fill their buckets and head back up the
valley to drop their load. Firefighters were trying to keep flames
from the Umatilla National Forest and its stands of dry timber.
"Once it got into dry timber, this wouldn't end until the snow
flies," Widmark said.
The Horse Creek fire was creeping through short grass about two miles
outside of Imnaha. The slow-moving fire was ignited by lightning a
week ago, and has grown steadily to 15,310 acres, with 40 percent
containment. Over the weekend, the fire had come to within a
quarter-mile of the town.
Fire officials were now concerned that it was heading toward a lot of
dry timber in the Wallowa National Forest.
"It's just a really stubborn fire, because there's quite a bit of
timber in there," said Widmark. "The problem now is that it could
become a huge ground-eater - feeding on any kind of debris on the
The weather forecast called for rainfall today and Wednesday west of
the Cascades, then smaller amounts of rain late Wednesday and Thursday
east of the Cascades, said Paul Werth, a meteorologist with the
Werth said he expects temperatures to rise over the weekend.
Mike Fitzpatrick, the Northwest center's intelligence officer, said
firefighters are making "great progress." The big question now, he
said, is whether the region will experience a new round of
lightning-sparked fires next week.
"If we get a couple new fires early next week, we're in good shape,"
Fitzpatrick said. "If we get 50 new fires a day for three days, we've
got a big problem."
Altogether, 40 fires were burning more than 450,300 acres Monday
across seven Western states.
In California, the 4,000-acre Creek fire continued to burn in
Mariposa County on Monday. More than 783 people had the blaze, thought
to be caused by arson, 50 percent contained, according to Jackie
Griffith, a fire information officer.
The 3,300-acre Ponderosa fire burning 130 miles east of San
Francisco, near the American River and Interstate 80, was 50 percent
contained early monay.
The 25,000-acre blaze in the Mendocino National Forest, 150 miles
north of San Francisco, was 95 percent contained after destroying 30
structures, including 10 homes, since Aug. 8.
Firefighters had also contained 95 percent of a 35,500-acre blaze
Monday morning 350 miles northeast of San Francisco in the Modoc
In Utah, about 60 miles southeast of Sal Lake City, a brush fire on
dry Mountain forced the evacuation of about 400 campers. The fire
began Saturday evening and grew Sunday to between 8,500 and 10,000
acres. High winds pushed the smoke down into a valley, making it
harder to estimate the size of the fire. It had covered only 2,000
acres earlier on Sunday, a fire information officer said.
In Wyoming, about 40 homes were evacuated along either side of the
Idaho-Wyoming border because of a 475-acre fire soiuth of Palisades
Reservoir. A 2,000-acre fire south of Meeteetse was threatening
ranches and an oilfield.
Washington fires Acres Percent contained
1. Virginia Lake Complex 58,000 85%
2. Rex Complex 49,757 0
3. Goodnoe Hill 15,000 100
4. Icicle Complex 6,875 0
5. Brewster Complex 6,000 85
6. Mt. Leona Complex 4,398 0
7. Tonasket Complex 3,080 22
8. Spruce Dome Complex 2,581 0
9. Rocky Elbow 250 100
1. Lakeview Complex (4) 127,552 100%
2. Sheepshead 49,050 70
3. Monument Complex 28,717 55
4. Horse Creek 15,310 40
5. Bridge Creek 9,230 85
6. Baker City Complex 8,884 100
7. Quartz 6,000 75
8. Olallie Lake Complex 2,500 30
9. Crane Prairie Complex 720 100
10. Wolf Creek 688 100
11. Big Creek 595 30
12. Border 40 45
Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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