(Update: Details on weekend fires NW of Madras, Monday update on Cedar Creek Fire)
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) – A four-acre brush fire that Jefferson County Fire District and other crews put out northwest of Madras Saturday apparently rekindled in windy conditions early Sunday evening, bringing back firefighters to battle the blaze and prompting closure of U.S. Highway 26 due to thick smoke, an official said.
Fire Chief Jeff Blake said the cause of the initial fire was still under investigation, and the renewed blaze was “probably either a hot spot or something got blown across the line” crews dug on Saturday.
Jefferson County Fire and EMS responded shortly before 7 p.m. Saturday to a fire in a backyard in the 5900 block of Northwest Columbia Drive, about five miles northwest of Madras, Deputy Fire Chief Kasey Skaar said Monday.
Due to high winds, the fire was moving quickly to the south, burning in the backyards of adjacent homes, Skaar said. Crews began putting out the fire, and mutual aid was called for and received from Warm Springs Fire and Safety, along with BLM, while Redmond Fire was called in to assist for district coverage.
Fire crews were able to gain access through several properties and get a line around the roughly four-acre fire’s perimeter. BLM was assigned to mop up around the perimeter, while crews put out flames that reached outbuildings and other equipment in the fire’s interior.
Crews protected homes from damage, but there was some fire damage to a large greenhouse, small outbuildings, a four-wheeler, motorcycle, RV, inoperable vehicles and equipment, Skaar said.
Crews returned Sunday around 9 a.m. to check for hot spots and talk with property owners.
Crews were called back to the scene around 5:30 p.m. Sunday due to fire outside of the containing lines, burning in grass and juniper by Highway 26, about three-quarters of an acre.
Crews remained on scene late into the evening, securing lines and mopping up hot spots, Skaar said. He added that crews will be checking the fire again Monday, as brush fires are not considered to be out until several days pass with no smoke.
ODOT closed the highway before 6 p.m. Sunday near milepost 111 and Northwest Columbia Drive, about five miles north of Madras. It was reopened before 7:30 p.m.
Thick smoke blew across the highway, limiting visibility and prompting the closure. Traffic was diverted and ODOT advised motorists to use an alternate route until the highway reopened.
Meanwhile, the Cedar Creek Fire on the Willamette National Forest near Waldo Lake grew to 4,422 acres on Sunday, remaining at zero containment as crews used heavy equipment to build fire breaks along forest roads, trails and natural areas.
Here’s Monday morning’s update:
Cedar Creek Fire
August 15, 2022 Daily Update – 8:00 AM
Acres: 4,422 | Contained: 0% | Total personnel: 717 |Start Date: August 1, 2022| Cause: Lightning | Location: 15 miles E of Oakridge, OR | Fuels: Heavy mixed conifer, ponderosa pine, brush, and grass
Highlights: Crews resumed aerial ignitions with Plastic Sphere Dispensers (PSD) also known as “ping pong balls” on the southwest flank of the fire yesterday. In the Cedar Creek drainage, these incendiary devices are being deployed by helicopters and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) also known as “drones” to encourage fire movement to the south towards containment lines. Heavy equipment including feller bunchers, masticators, and graders continued working on roads in multiple areas of the fire, including along Forest Road (FR) 2419 and FR 1944 north of the fire area.
Small diameter material is being removed and stacked during the construction of the shaded fuel break from Forest Road 24 south to Highway 58. Prep work also continued south of the fire area in the FR 5883 road system, which is now being considered a primary containment line after it was determined that there was no safe opportunity to construct fireline from Black Creek Road directly to Waldo Lake.
Operations: With slightly warmer and drier conditions forecast for today, UAS and helicopters are expected to continue with aerial ignitions in the Cedar Creek drainage on the southwest flank of the fire. Firefighters have adapted their strategy to contain the southern fire perimeter and are now focused on building primary and secondary containment lines south of Black Creek Road. Heavy equipment will continue removing vegetation along the road and chipping small diameter woody material around Fuji Mountain today.
Crews are still looking for opportunities to construct line through the roadless area to prevent the fire from moving south towards values at risk, and scout for options to construct a primary containment line south of Black Creek Road in the Bunchgrass Ridge area. Firefighters are working closely with Resource Advisors (READs) from the Willamette National Forest to ensure that critical natural and cultural resources in the area, including Waldo Lake, are protected and damage is minimized and mitigated.
Evacuations: Currently, there are no evacuations in place.
Weather: Temperatures are expected to be 80-90 degrees with relative humidity predicted between 24-35 percent. Winds will be terrain driven in most areas with ridgetops and exposed areas seeing northwest winds 3 to 6 mph and gusts to 12 mph in the afternoon.
Closures: An Area Closure is in place for the Cedar Creek Fire. This includes all trailheads and dispersed camping west and north of Waldo Lake. The lake itself, campgrounds, and trails (including the PCT) on the east side remain open. A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in place.
Restrictions: Fire restrictions are in place on the Willamette National Forest with the exception of the Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Waldo Lake, and Diamond Peak Wilderness areas. All campfires, charcoal or briquette fires, pellet fires, or any other fires will be prohibited, except in designated campgrounds. Portable cooking stoves, lanterns, and heaters using liquefied or bottled fuel are still allowed if they can be switched on and off. Motorized vehicles may operate only on designated trails and roads, including within the Huckleberry Flats and Santiam Pass OHV areas.
Smoke: Smoke Forecast Outlooks (in both English and Spanish) are available at https://outlooks.wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlook. Air quality in Oakridge, Oregon is expected to be good with the best time of day to recreate outdoors being late afternoon.
Fire Information: Office Hours: 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM | Phone: 541-201-2335 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Online: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8307/ | https://www.facebook.com/CedarCreekFire2022/ | https://www.facebook.com/willamettenf | https://twitter.com/willametteNF | YouTube: https://www.tinyurl.com/cedarcreekfireyoutube
Lines also are being improved on the Windigo Fire on the Umpqua National Forest and the Potter and Big Swamp fires on the Willamette National Forest. The fires are being jointly managed and share a Facebook page for updates.