Fire crews working to contain wildfires in the Oakridge-Westfir area are routing resources from smaller fires to the largest fire in the Middle Fork Complex.
After successes on the Kwis and Knoll fires, crews are routing more heavy equipment and other resources to the Gales and Ninemile fires, according fire officials’ daily report.
The Gales Fire is the largest in the Middle Fork Complex at 6,876 acres. The Ninemile Fire is the smallest at 488 acres.
Firefighters will resume efforts to construct indirect containment lines around Gales and Ninemile fires, fire officials stated, and will implement strategic burning operations as conditions allow.
The Middle Fork Complex began as 12 fires burning in the Oakridge-Westfir area. Most of those fires now are contained. The fires that are not contained include Kwis, Gales and Ninemile fires in the Middle Fork Complex, and the Knoll Fire.
The Middle Fork Complex is 2% contained. Its fires totaled 8,424 acres as Saturday morning.
The Knoll Fire is 30% contained. It was 544 acres Saturday morning.
Weather, smoke, air quality
Some instability is lingering, meaning there’s a slight potential for plumes but less of a threat than Friday.
Humidity was expected Saturday morning to help with efforts before the air dried out during the day.
An air quality advisory from the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency remains in place until at least noon Monday.
Oakridge and other communities in the Cascades can expect prolonged periods of “unhealthy” air quality. On Saturday morning, the air quality in Oakridge had an “unhealthy” AQI 237.
The Eugene-Springfield area will range primarily in “moderate” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” category with occasional periods reaching “unhealthy,” on the Air Quality Index, according to a LRAPA news release.
The Kwis Fire, three miles from Oakridge, grew to 1,482 acres by Saturday morning.
Smoke helped moderate fire activity Friday, despite hot and dry conditions, according to fire officials.
Crews on Friday conducted strategic burning operations along the containment line from Forest Road 5871 to Forest Road 207.
On Saturday, they planned to continue installing a sprinkler system, and water tenders will help wet down areas where crews conducted strategic firing operations.
Crews are mopping up and patrolling along completed fire lines and using heavy equipment to construct alternative containment lines.
Firefighters are working to prepare areas of Oakridge for fire by building defensible space and surveyed nearly 471 homes in Oakridge, including the Level 2 evacuation area.
They are working to complete all assessments in the Level 2 and Level 3 evacuation areas Saturday.
Ready, set, wait:Oakridge-area prepares for possible evacuations *For subscribers*
Gales and Ninemile fires
Crews working on the 6,876-acre Gales Fire and 488-acre Ninemile Fire will resume previous efforts to construct indirect containment lines.
They’ll be getting more supplies to combat the two fires. After what the fire officials call successes on the Kwis and Knoll fires, crews are routing heavy equipment and other resources toward the fires.
In addition to using the equipment to construct fire lines, crews will prepare Forest Road 18 to move equipment and other resources to both fires.
They’ll implement strategic burning operations as conditions allow.
Firefighters doubled the containment on the Knoll Fire from Friday to Saturday morning, and fire officials expect containment percentage to keep increasing, according fire officials’ report.
The fire is 544 acres and 30% contained and “continues to remain within its existing footprint.”
Crews continue holding the fire west of Highway 126 and mopping up as needed.
Fire officials warned there may be increased smoke as the fire naturally consumes unburned islands of forest within the perimeter.
Some road, campgrounds and trailheads near the Middle Fork Complex and Knoll fires are temporarily closed to provide for public safety.
The Forest Service issued an emergency area closure within the area of the Middle Fork Complex, meaning all “roads, trails, developed recreation sites, dispersed camping, and entering of National Forest System” land in the closure area is prohibited.
Campfires are still prohibited on the entire Willamette National Forest due to very high fire danger and ongoing active fires.
The Oregon State Marine Board has issued a temporary closure on a portion of the McKenzie River from Trail Bridge Reservoir Dam (River Mile 81.9) downstream to the Frissel Boat Ramp (River Mile 76.1). For more information visit flashalert.net/id/OSMB.
Closures east of Oakridge include Salmon Creek Falls Campground, the Aubrey Mountain trails, the Eugene to Crest trailhead and Salmon Creek trails.
Recreation closures near McKenzie Bridge include Olallie Campground and the nearby day use area, part of the McKenzie River National Trail, Deer Creek Hot Springs and the McKenzie River Viewpoint.
For more information visit fs.usda.gov/willamette.
Here is a detailed list of closures:
Campgrounds closures: Salmon Creek Falls Campground, Dolly Varden Campground, Big Pool Campground, Broken Bowl Campground, Clark Creek Organizational Camp, Bedrock Campground, Puma Campground.
Other recreation sites: Little Cowhorn Lookout, Timber Butte Lookout, Saddle Blanket Mountain.
Trail closures: Salmon Creek Trail #4365, South Salmon Creek Trail #4366, Cross-Country River Trailhead (Warrior Cross Country Loop #4231, 600 Loop Tie, Warrior Tie), Aubrey Mountain Trailhead (Aubrey Mountain Trail #3554, Aubrey Mountain Tie, South Aubrey Loop), Eugene to Crest Trail System Segments (see closure order for details), Dead Mountain Trail #3566 (trailhead extends outside the closure boundary), Fall Creek Trail (closed by a separate Forest Closure Order), Clark Creek Nature Trail, Johnny Creek Nature Trail, Hehe Mountain Trailhead, Gold Point Trailhead, Saddle Blanket, Cowhorn Mountain, Tall Trees Trail, Jones Upper and Jones Lower trailheads, Jones Trail, Alpine Trail and Trailheads, Elk Camp Trailhead.
Road closures: Forest Road 2400 (Forest Road 24. From the 2400.201 junction to the 2409 junction), Forest Road 2400012, Forest Road 2400013, Forest Road 2400037, Forest Road 2400207, Forest Road 2400208, Forest Road 2400211, Forest Road 2400211A, Forest Road 2404 (From the 2404 and 2400 junction north to the junction of Forest Trail 3566 and Forest Road 2404), Forest Road 2408, Forest Road 2408036, Forest Road 2408270, Forest Road 5871332, Forest Road 5871337, Forest Road 5871334, Forest Road 5871328, Forest Road 5871325, Forest Road 5871320, Forest Road 5800013, Forest Road 1802, Forest Road 1816, Forest Road 1817, Forest Road 1818, Forest Road 1821, Forest Road 1824, Forest Road 1825, Forest Road 1828, Forest Road 1830, Forest Road 1831, Forest Road 1832, Forest Road 1833, Forest Road 1834, Forest Road 1835, Forest Road 1839, Forest Road 1912.
The full closure order for the Kwis Fire is available online at fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd937365.pdf, and a detailed map is available at fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd937366.pdf.
Shelters open for people, animals
Need a ride? Residents who need transportation assistance to evacuate are asked to to fill out the pre-registration form on the City of Oakridge website as soon as possible. It’s available at ci.oakridge.or.us/community/webform/evacuation-assistance-pre-registration.
Shelters: Lane County worked with Red Cross Cascades Region volunteers to open a shelter in Pleasant Hill for residents whose homes are in evacuation zones related to the Middle Fork Complex Fire, including the Kwis and Knoll fires that both have active evacuation zones.
The shelter is at Pleasant Hill High School, 36386 OR-58.
Individuals and families affected by the Middle Fork Complex Fire and in need of assistance are encouraged to simply show up for help. For information on what to bring to a Red Cross shelter, please visit RedCross.org.
Livestock shelter: A shelter for livestock is established at the Lane County Fairgrounds, 796 W. 13th Ave., for residents of areas under an evacuation notice. Donations for livestock will be welcome at the fairgrounds from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. while the shelter is in operation, but call ahead at 541-359-9404 to determine the current need.
Domestic pet shelter: A shelter for domestic pets is at Greenhill Humane Society, 88530 Greenhill Road. Pet owners are asked to call ahead to 541-689-1503. Donations for Greenhill’s domestic pet shelter are also welcome at the fairgrounds between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. while the shelter is in operation. Needed items are pet food, cat litter and clean crates in good condition.
Lane County encourages emergency alerting system signups
All Lane County residents should be hypervigilant during times of high fire danger. Follow local rules and regulations related to fire safety and keep yourself informed about changing conditions.
Lane County utilizes numerous emergency alerting systems to warn residents of disasters. To receive emergency notifications, sign up for AlertSense at https://public.alertsense.com/SignUp.
Learn more about how to plan for a possible evacuation at LaneCountyOR.gov/evacuation.
For the most up-to date-information on evacuation levels in your area, visit lanecountyor.gov/MiddleForkComplex.
Level 1, 2 and 3 evacuation notices have been issued by Lane County. For evacuation information and an interactive map of current evacuation areas, visit lanecountyor.gov/middleforkcomplex.
Level 3 (Go Now): All homes, campgrounds and dispersed recreation along Forest Service Road 18 (Big Fall Creek Road) east of the intersection with Forest Service Road 1821, including Puma Campground and Bedrock Campground, are at Level 3.
Level 3 means leave immediately.
Level 2 (Be Set): High Prairie area, Fish Hatchery area, Oakridge north of Roberts Road and Oakridge east of Salmon Creek.
Level 2 means that you must prepare to leave at a moment’s notice.
Related: *For subscribers* Ready, set, wait: Oakridge-area prepares for possible evacuations, with hopes Kwis Fire stays away
Level 1 (Be Ready): All of Oakridge-Westfir, including Deception Creek Mobile Park and the Hills Creek Reservoir area south of Highway 58 to Larison Cove. Also, Belknap Hot Springs and Resort area and structures near Scott Creek and Highway 126.
Level 1 means you should be aware of the danger that exists in your area.
Contact city government watchdog Megan Banta at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.