Firefighters Stamp Cascade blazes
Daniel B. Wheeler
dwheeler at ipns.com
Wed Aug 29 11:51:36 EST 2001
>From The Oregonian, Aug. 28, 2001, p C9
Weary firefighters stamp out rest of blazes in Cascade Range
Crews continue to battle blazes across the region and the threat of
more fires in Oregon remains high
By RICHARD COCKLE, Correspondent, The Oregonian
LA GRANDE - The Olallie Complex of wildfires in the Cascade Range,
the last of Oregon's big wildfires, was being mopped up Monday.
But firefighting bosses weren't breathing much easier as tired,
soot-blackened crews extinguished spot fires within the firelines of
the 2,719-acre Olallie Complex. Afternoon temperatures in the 90s and
single-digit relative humidity were combining this week with parched
and plentiful grasses and forest fuels to keep the fire danger across
Oregon and the rural West at a Level 5, its most dangerous.
"If you ate chili peppers, you would probably set it on fire,"
quipped David Widmark, spokesman for the Northwest Interagency
Coordination Center in Portland.
On the bright side, dry lightning was not expected anywhere in Oregon
for the next day or two. And this week should mark the end of the
summer's dry lightning season: Most Oregon wildfires after Sept. 1 are
human-caused as the frequency of lightning storms diminishes, said
On the Olallie Complex, which was contained Sunday, pockets of flame
in root systems and slash continued to pose all-too-frequent
challenges for firefighters, said Widmark. That comlex consists of
roughly 20 separate wildfires along the crest of the Cascades on the
Mount Hood National Forest and the Warm Springs Reservation.
Burned areas within the fire lines will remain closed to the public,
largely because of the numerous standing dead trees that have the
potential to fall without warning, said Erv Gasser, a rehabilitation
Still, fire planners expected to re-open Forest Road 4220, the
Olallie Scenic Area and the Olallie Resort to public access on
Wednesday. The Central Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team
agreed to lift those emergency closures and has reopened many trails
and campgrounds because of the forthcoming Labor Day holiday, said a
The Peninusla Campground, Monon Trail, Monolallie Trail, Olallie
Trail and Trout Lake Campground will remain closed until further
notice, the spokesman said.
- Firefighters also were mopping up the 16,459-acre Horse Creek fire
near the northeastern Oregon town of Imnaha, he said. Much of that
fire burned in steep grasslands and mop-up efforts were proceeding
faster than with the Olallie Complex.
In Washington state, crews made progress on six large wildfires.
- The 7,697-acre Icicle Complex, six miles southwest of the
picturesque Swiss-style village of Leavenworth, was 90 percent
contained, reported the National Interagency Coordination Center in
- The 1,410-acre Sleepy Complex on the Colville National Forest, was
95 percent contained.
- Crews continued to struggle with the 1,200-acre Windy Swamp Complex
of fires near Tonasket, which was only 45 percent contained.
- The vast, 82,773-acre Virginia Lake Complex of fires, 12 miles
south of Okanagan, and the 43,000-acre Rex Creek Complex, 34 miles
northwest of Lake chelan, were only 65 percent contained, reported the
- The 6,144-acre Mount Leona complex of fires on the Colville
National Forest was 70 percent contained.
Across the West, fire activity stabilized during the weekend. The bad
news was that dry lighting is forecast during the next day or two in
Utah, parts of Nevada, Wyoming and Montana - which coiuld mean more
new wildfires, said Widmark.
Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler
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