(Update: Saturday morning update; more crews arriving; cause found to be lightning)
CHEMULT, Ore. (KTVZ) – A second interagency hotshot crew and a local 20-person Type 2 hand crew were arriving Saturday to help fight the lightning-sparked Tolo Mountain Fire on the Deschutes National Forest’s Crescent Ranger District, which held at around 41 acres and zero percent containment.
They are joining several crews, engines, 10 smokejumpers and a local Type 3 Incident Management Team that will assume command of the fire Saturday around 6 p.m., officials said in Saturday morning’s update — the first to report that the cause of the blaze was determined to be lightning.
Several Large Air Tankers (LATs) and two Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT planes) were dispatched to respond to the fire Friday afternoon when activity increased and two spot fires escaped preliminary containment lines.
Firefighters were able to construct fireline around the approximately five-acre spot fire, officials said, and that line held through the night. Air tankers dropped retardant on a second spot to the east of the five-acre spot, and crews were building containment lines around it Saturday.
Continued hot and dry conditions will challenge suppression efforts Saturday, with more triple digit temperatures, relative humidity in the single digits and critically dry fuels. There’s also a chance for thunderstorms in the area, which will likely bring breezy conditions to the fire area in the afternoon.
Air Tankers and heavy helicopters are available to assist firefighters on the ground in cooling hot spots and moderating fire behavior if needed.
The Tolo Mountain Fire, about three miles north of Cappy Mountain on the Crescent Ranger District, was reported Wednesday at 5:45 pm and is burning in heavy timber, with a mix of standing dead and downed wood.
The fire was first reported about six miles west of the Two Rivers subdivision and north of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness Area.
Ten smokejumpers initially responded to the fire Thursday morning and were joined by the Prineville Interagency Hotshots, two engine crews, a five-person hand crew and a bulldozer. Air tankers also supported the suppression efforts, along with a heavy helicopter using Crescent Lake as a water dip site.
The fire has not led to any closures, and the Pacific Crest Trail, about 2 ½ to 3 miles from the fire, remains unaffected, officials said.
Active fire behavior was reported Thursday afternoon, along with “group torching” of trees in heavy timber amid an intense heat wave.
Forest Service spokeswoman Kassidy Kern said Thursday afternoon the fire was “heading into incredibly receptive fuels,” so a large air attack was launched to “help slow that fire and give the very well qualified folks on the ground an opportunity to establish an anchor point and get a line around it.”
“We are at a high risk for significant wildfire potential now, due to the significant drought and critically low fuel moisture,” she noted.
The post More crews arrive to help fight 41-acre Tolo Mountain Fire; cause determined to be lightning appeared first on KTVZ.