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Fire at a glance (numbers)

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Watson Creek, Fremont-Winema NF. IMT 2 (Sheldon). Thirteen miles west of Paisley, OR. Timber and brush. Moderate fire behavior.

September 3, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Happy Labor Day to the people of Lake County!

Northwest Incident Management Team 6 would like to thank the people of Lake County, from Silver Lake to Lakeview, for their cooperation, collaboration, and understanding during our tenure on the Watson Creek Fire. Our firefighters felt welcomed and appreciated by this community, especially the City of Paisley, as we added more than 1000 people to its population for the last two weeks. Your friendliness and helpfulness is much appreciated. We know that having so many of us suddenly descend upon a town can tax the local citizens and resources such as water supplies. Thank you all for working with us and serving us so well.

The Watson Creek Fire is 95% contained. Final, full containment will be achieved by the incoming incident management team, with Leland Hunter serving as Incident Commander. The transition meeting will occur at 10:00 a.m. today, with incoming fire overhead shadowing their outgoing counterparts throughout the remainder of the day. Hunter’s incoming team will assume command of the fire at 6:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

Today’s weather will be similar to yesterday’s, with warm and dry conditions affecting combustion of previously unburned fuels. Increasing numbers of “smokes” have been observed, and smoke from stumps and roots will be visible for several weeks into the future.

School begins in Paisley on Wednesday, and many new firefighters will be driving through town. Please drive with extra caution, watching for walking children and additional fire traffic.

And, finally, please continue to be safe and wise with respect to possible fire-starting activities.

September 1, 2018 at 9:27 AM

Friday’s early morning infrared imagery showed a hot spot outside of fire lines near Mill Creek. “There was heat in the ground that hadn’t shown up yet as smoke or flame,” said Vince Grace, field operations chief for Team 6. “Our day crew was able to find it and dig it out. It was a good catch.”

Dangerous, damaged trees that are near roads and recreation areas or near crews working on mop-up are being cut and left in place where possible. Chipping of woody debris left along roadsides continues. Fire lines are being water-barred to prevent erosion. Structures that have been covered in protective wrap are being unwrapped. Sprinklers, hoses, and pumps are being removed. Fire officials have initiated use of low-level aerial infrared imagery of areas close to fire lines to detect hot spots.

Today, warmer and drier conditions are expected as a result of east winds of 5-10 mph with gusts of 15 to 20. The unburned areas within the fire perimeter will likely exhibit active burning, possibly producing more smoke than on Friday.

A review of evacuation levels is underway and a decision will be made and communicated today regarding future evacuation levels. As of this morning, the Lakeview Estates neighborhood remains under a Level 2 evacuation notice.

The Fremont-Winema Forest emergency closure order for the Watson Creek Fire allows access to some popular recreation sites. Closure Order Number 06-02-03-18-02-3 can be seen in full at https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/fremont-winema/alerts-notices.

If your Labor Day plans include target shooting, please remember that there are restrictions on the types of targets and ammunition used during fire season.

Expect increased traffic due to Labor Day Weekend activities including recreation and the Lake County Fair combined with firefighting resources being released and leaving the area.

Please drive carefully!

August 29, 2018 at 12:41 PM

A spot fire near Buckaroo Springs and Forest Service Road 3510 was caught in the Watson Creek Fire area on Tuesday. All divisions working on the fire reported progress yesterday and will be mopping up, holding, and patrolling containment lines. Crews are gridding, looking for any areas of heat within 100 feet of the perimeter.

Following weaker winds and cooler temperatures overnight, today may be warmer than yesterday. Creeping and smoldering fire behavior is still anticipated. Today winds are projected to be out of the south in the morning, southwest in the afternoon and west in the evening. This may cause more smoke in the Paisley area.

Much of South Central Oregon is very dry and receptive to fire. Remember to be careful if you are driving. Keep chains from dragging and creating sparks. Never throw a cigarette or other combustible material from a vehicle.

Evacuations & Closure:

In collaboration with Team 6 the Lake County Sheriff’s Office has reduced evacuation levels.

As of 6:00 a.m. today, the Lakeview Estates neighborhood Level 3 evacuation has been lowered to a Level 2.

The areas previously at a Level 2 evacuation have been lowered to a Level 1.

The evacuation notice has been lifted for residents east of Highway 31.

Closure Order Number 06-02-03-18-02-02 for the FremontWinema National Forest remains in effect.

August 26, 2018 at 10:06 AM

Fire activity will be active with gusty westerly winds. Short duration crown fire, group tree torching, isolated torching with high intensity surface fire in the beetle killed lodgepole. Rapid rates of spread in the ceanothus and sage/grass. Mid-range spotting can be expected.

24 hours: Fire activity will moderate as the fire transitions from large patches of beetle killed lodgepole to open understory canopy with grasses, sage and ceanothus. Group and isolated torching with lower surface spread rates are expected.

August 25, 2018 at 12:06 PM

Firefighters constructed more than a mile of dozer line on Friday to connect with Forest Road 3372-022 and cut off spread of the fire to the northwest, reducing the expected footprint of the Watson Creek Fire by 5 to 6 square miles if the line continues to hold.

Doug McKay, Silver Lake and Paisley District Ranger, said, “Thursday’s defensive holding action during the wind event allowed the team to return to the offensive on Friday, and they are making safe and significant strides toward stopping the fire.” Containment of the fire increased to 15%.

The Ingram Guard Station has been wrapped with reflective fire-resistant material and structure protection is in place. Successful firing operations were conducted near the Guard Station on Friday, along Forest Road 33 on the southeast edge of the fire, and on the northwest flank of Hadley Butte.

Evacuation notices remain unchanged and are coordinated by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. · Level 3 (GO): Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest is still in effect. Lake County Sheriff’s Office evacuated area residents Sunday. · Level 2 (Be Set): Residents west of Highway 31 from Beachler’s Corner (Mile Post 105) north on Highway 31 to the Forest Road 29, also known as Government Harvey Pass Road. This includes the town of Paisley west of Highway 31. · Level 1 (Be Ready): Residents east of Highway 31.

Closure Order Number 06-02-03-18-02-02 for the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains in effect.

Archery hunting season begins today. Extra traffic is expected near the fire area and increased caution is recommended while driving.

Green Diamond Resource Company is the forest landowner most directly impacted by the fire and has been contributing significantly toward its suppression. Their help is appreciated by Northwest Incident Management Team 6.

Fire danger is extreme – please follow all fire restrictions!

August 23, 2018 at 4:41 PM

Watson Creek Fire – Effective 3:15 p.m. August 23rd , 2018, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office is implementing a Level 2 evacuation notice west of Hwy 31 from Beachler’s Corner (Mile Post 105) north on Highway 31 to the 29 Road, also known as Government Harvey Pass Road. This includes the town of Paisley west of Highway 31. East of Highway 31 is now in a Level 1 evacuation

Level 1 Evacuation means “Be Ready” for potential evacuation.
Level 2 Evacuation means “Be Set” to evacuate!

August 23, 2018 at 10:04 AM

Firefighters on the line today will be working against increased winds over the fire area. Fire behavior is expected to be very active by late morning. Last night crews were able to catch any spotting across fire lines even as visibility on the fire decreased, and were able to conduct successful firing operations in the Hadley Butte area. The total acreage is now at 40,272.

A 6,500 gallon heliwell has been established at Coffee Pot Flat to reduce turn-around times on water drops for the helicopters working hot spots. Visibility remains a concern for aviation resources and may be reduced by smoke from this and surrounding fires through mid-afternoon.

A dry cold front is predicted to bring gusty winds with lower relative humidity recoveries to the fire area today through Friday. Southerly winds in the morning are expected to gradually become westerly and eventually northwesterly. Winds are forecast to be strongest in the afternoon and evening hours with gusts up to 25 mph which may hamper the efforts of fire crews. Where the winds align with the slope and topography, higher gusts may be possible. Temperatures are forecasted in the 70s to lower 80s, and relative humidity should decrease to 15-25%.

The Level 3 (GO) evacuation for the Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest is still in effect today.

A Level 1 (Be Ready) evacuation area is in place for residents west of Oregon State Highway 31 between mileposts 79 and 105. Residents in the area should be aware of current conditions. If evacuations become necessary, it will be coordinated through the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and communicated through the Incident Management Team, SCOFMP and Fremont-Winema National Forest. It is recommended to always “Be Ready” when living near a fire-prone area.

Fire Area Emergency Closure Order Number 06-02-03-18-02-01 for the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains in effect.

August 20, 2018 at 6:38 PM

As firefighters work in challenging terrain on the Watson Creek Fire, favorable wind conditions assisted firefighting efforts on Sunday night. Last night’s infrared flight over the fire shows it has grown to 25,788 acres.

On the northwest side of the fire near Forest Road 29, commonly known as Government Harvey Road, crews have been holding and improving the line while also addressing hazardous snags in the area. Near Slide Lake and Withers Lake, the fire is holding. Fire spread is in the direction of McComb Butte near Forest Road 33. Crews will be scouting to strategize modes of attack. On the southwestern edge of the fire, dozer lines are still holding.

The temperature today in the fire area will be in the 70s with relative humidity at 20-30%. Winds are forecasted to be out of the north to northeast most of the day with afternoon gusts up to 15 mph with variable wind direction. There is a slight chance of showers with possible thunderstorms today and tomorrow.

The Lake County Sheriff issued a Level 3 (GO) evacuation for approximately 15 homes in the Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest yesterday. That is still in effect today.

The Watson Creek Fire Incident Command Post (ICP) is now located in the town of Paisley, Oregon.

About 100 people attended the public meeting held last night in Paisley. Fire managers and cooperating agencies addressed concerns ranging from the firefighting strategy to the condition of the landscape and the general direction of the fire’s growth.

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The emergency fire closure for several roads and recreation areas on the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains in place. The Order is Number 06-02-03-18-02 and is posted at various locations around the community.

With extreme fire conditions, please prevent roadside fires by assuring that chains do not drag, and please don’t drive, idle or park in dry grass.

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Starting at 12:01 tomorrow morning, the Mountain Lakes, Sky Lakes and Mount Thielsen Wilderness Areas will be under Public Use Restrictions.

This means campfires will not be allowed in the Wilderness Areas. However, those recreating in the Wilderness, including hikers and backpackers, can use a portable cooking stove or heater using liquefied or bottled gas.

This change to the Public Use Restrictions provides consistent restrictions within shared Wilderness Areas to reduce public confusion.

The rest of the Public Use Restrictions remain in place, including:

  • Building, maintaining, attending or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire. (This includes charcoal briquette fire. Portable cooking stoves and heaters using liquefied or bottled gas are allowed).
  • Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least (3) three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
  • Possessing or using a vehicle off National Forest System roads.
  • Operating any motor vehicle on National Forest System roads where vegetation comes into contact with the vehicle’s undercarriage.
  • Operating an internal combustion engine.
  • Operating or using any internal or external combustion engine without a spark arresting device properly installed, maintained, and in effective working order.
  • Welding, or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame.

These restrictions are officially referenced as Forest Closure Order Number 06-02-18-01-02. Violations of the order are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both.

The full closure order can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/Fremont-Winema.

August 19, 2018 at 10:25 AM

Firefighters worked to suppress the Watson Creek Fire on Saturday, addressing the flames at several points with strategic burnouts that met and slowed the fire’s progression toward established fire lines. Helicopters continued to assist with water drops and will be available again today. Last night’s infrared flight over the fire shows it has grown to 16,227 acres.

A public meeting will be held tonight at 7:00 p.m. in Paisley at the Community Center. Fire managers will offer a briefing on the condition of the landscape in the fire area, show maps, and share details of the ongoing firefighting strategy. On Saturday, the fire continued to consume vegetation at various hot spots within the fire line, generating smoke plumes where burning activity was greatest. A 10-acre spot outside the fire line at the junction of Forest Roads 28 and 3380 near the Hanan/Sycan Campground was quickly lined with a bulldozer and monitored overnight. In the evening, another spot onto Green Diamond Timber lands off of Forest Road 3315, commonly known as the High Road, near the Bear Creek Trailhead challenged crews. Firefighters are assessing this area and working to contain it. Overnight, crews found a window to conduct burnout operations, making progress on the strategy. Taking advantage of fuel breaks that had been created by the Paisley District to keep fire behavior moderate, about 1.5 miles of burnout was completed along the 3315 Road. Today, firefighters will work to hold this line and, if conditions allow, more burnout will be conducted near Slide Lake. Established fire lines are expected to be tested today with stronger winds starting with a southerly flow in the morning, then shifting to south-southwesterly as the day progresses before the strongest winds at 10 to 15 miles per hour are forecasted to flow in a west-northwesterly direction. The combination of increased and shifting wind and anticipated atmospheric instability will likely create challenging conditions for firefighters across the landscape as wind flow meeting terrain creates areas of turbulence. The emergency fire closure for several roads and recreation areas on the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains in place. The Order is Number 06-02-03-18-02 and is posted at various locations around the community. Please take care to avoid starting wildfires.

August 17, 2018 at 9:30 AM

The Watson Creek Fire grew to over 1,000 acres today due 10 difficult terrain and heavy mixed vegetation of standing and down lodge pole pine from beetle kill.

The fire was reported yesterday afternoon approximately 15 miles west of Paisley and is burning on the Fremont-Winema National Forest Paisley Ranger District.

Firefighters progress is slow due to the amount of dead and down logs as well as standing snags. The numerous hazards make it tough to effectively and safely fight fire. The dry burnable fuel on the ground in front of the fire is creating issues with access.

Gusty afternoon winds today contributed to the fire spotting up to a half mile away. The use of additional aircraft for support has been limited by visibility in the area.

Forecasts tomorrow predict north winds which would push the main fire to the southeast.

Resources assigned to the fire include a Single Engine Air Tanker, lead plane, 2 fixed wing air attack airtankers. 20-person crew, 2 helicopters, 5 engines, 3 water tenders, 4 dozers, and approximately 100personnel.

Cooperators include Oregon State Police, rural fire districts and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. Affected area residents under a Level I (be ready) evacuation notice have been notified by the Sheriffs Department.

A Type ll Incident Management Team has been ordered to assume command.

Due to the fire situation road closures and evacuations arc being put in place.

Access to the east side of the Fremont-Winema National Forest using Forest Roads 2901, 29, 3315 and 33is unavailable due to road closures and fire activity.

The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness Area is still open, but Forest Road 34 north of Corral Creek Campground is closed extending to Forest Road 28 to 1he junction with Forest Road 33.

On 1he western edge of the fire area, Forest Road 30, commonly known as Silver Creek Marsh Road is closed approximately 3 miles from the Forest boundary and Road 341 1, commonly known as Thomas Road is closed at the Forest boundary.

Numerous recreation sites in the area are also closed as a result of the fire acclivity.

Recreation site closures:

Bald Bune Lookout
Bear Creek Trailhead
Campbell Lake Campground
Chewaucan Crossing Campground
Currier Guard Station
Currier Horse Camp
Currier Trailhead
Dead Morse Lake Campground and Trailhcad
Fremont National Rccrea1ion Trail # 160 between Chewaucan Crossing Campground and Dead Indian Rim
Fremont Point Cabin
Fremont Point Trailhead
Hanan/Coffeepo1 Trailhead
Hanan/Sycan Campground and Trailhead
Harris Trailhead
Jones Crossing Campground
Lee Thomas Campground and Trailhead
Marster Spring Campground
North Fork Sprague Trailhead
Pikes Crossing Campground
Rock Creek Campground
Sandhill Crossing Campground
Slide Lake Trailhead
Winier Rim Trailhead
Withers Lake Day Use Area
Withers Lake Trailhead

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Community and firefighter safety is the number one priority for all South Central Oregon FireManagemen1 Partnership (SCOFMP) employees. The public is asked to avoid the fire area.Every fire can appear different visually depending on the amount of vegetation and how long fire has been historically absent from the area. This includes wildfires and prescribed fires.