Sunday, July 5, 2015

7/5/15 Corner Creek/Sugarloaf Fire Update

Please note: unless conditions significantly change, this will be the only post for these fires this afternoon. Final evaluation of the infrared flight puts acreage at 26,000.                                                                                                                             
Oregon Department of Forestry
Incident Management Team 1
John Buckman, Incident Commander
Fire Information: (541) 987-2348
A minor change in the weather has made a significant difference for firefighters working to contain the 26,000-acre Corner Creek Fire, located 11 miles south of Dayville on the Ochoco National Forest. It has also helped to have assembled a sizeable fire suppression workforce supported by plenty of hardware.
Today, seven helicopters are poised to haul water buckets or sling equipment to firefighters in even the most remote portions of the fire. Air tankers are also available, if needed. Eight bulldozers and 28 20-person crews, including eight hotshot crews, are distributed along the south and west flanks of the Corner Creek Fire to construct containment line and respond to spot fires, should they occur. Thirty-five wildland fire engines patrol the South Fork John Day River road and other roads inside and outside of the burned area to extinguish hot spots near the fire’s edge.
And due to the slightly cooler, moister air, firefighters have spent more time lately on strengthening containment lines instead of chasing spot fires.
The average daytime temperature has dropped from 100-plus degrees to the mid-90s, and the humidity has climbed from single-digits into the teens. Overnight the humidity rises to nearly 50 percent. While this may seem insignificant for most people, this has been a dramatic change for firefighters toiling night and day to keep the fire from crossing containment lines. Lower temperatures and higher humidity means fire behavior is less intense.
This is a major change from last week. For several days in a row, the Corner Creek Fire slipped out of control and surged south across forests and rangeland, sometimes burning thousands of acres in a few hours.
Now, fire crews are making a bare-earth fireline around the southern-most three-fourths of the Corner Creek Fire, protecting valuable forestland, rangeland and sage grouse habitat from wildfire. The northern quarter of the fire, in the Black Canyon Wilderness, is being treated more tenderly by hotshot crews trained to slow the fire’s advance with light-on-the-land suppression tactics.
While the fire is only 10 percent contained, its chances for escape, particularly toward private lands and areas of sage grouse habitat, reduce hour-by-hour as containment lines grow ever longer. Final containment of this incident will take a significant amount of time and additional work.
Suppression operations are being supervised by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 1, led by Incident Commander John Buckman.

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