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Environment, Energy and Transportation
Check here for information on fires in our region. You can also check out these resources:Northwest Interagency Coordination CenterSWOFIRE: Oregon Department of Forestry, SW regionCalFire: Current Fire InformationInciWeb: Incident Information SystemOregon Smoke Blog: Smoke informationSouth Central Oregon Fire Management Cooperative (Klamath/Lake Counties & Crater Lake)

Collier Butte Fire: It's a Wrap

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Rich Reuse/John Kern
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A crew on the burn-out operation last week on the west side of the Collier Butte fire.

FINAL UPDATE: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 9:15 A.M. ... Fire commanders at the Collier Butte fire -- burning since August 2 in Oregon's Kalmiopsis Wilderness east of Gold Beach -- are wrapping up the fire and handing command of what's left of the incident to a local team.

The fire camp is being dismantled and fire fighters  and equipment are being released to higher-priority fires.

The fire has burned 11,800 acres and stands at 55 percent containment.

The local team will continue to monitor the fire by patrolling the fire lines and will regularly fly the perimeter to keep a birds-eye view on any remaining fire activity. Fire activity at this point consists of minimal smoldering in some areas. Mop-up operations will continue as needed. 

Crews will also continue to work on repairing damage done to the wilderness during the fight to contain the fire. This includes breaking down large berms created in the construction of dozer line, constructing water bars along fire lines, stabilizing any work done around streams or sensitive areas, and returning any remaining equipment to town.    

Fire officials remind the public that the recent rain wasn’t a fire season ending event, so it’s important to remain vigilant when traveling or recreating outdoors. While the area got received 2.5 inches of rain over the weekend, other areas of the Forest received little to no rain, so extreme drought conditions still exist, creating very receptive fuels.  Any spark or flame may ignite a wildfire, so please follow local fire restrictions and remain mindful of fire prevention.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, AUGUST 27, 11:30 A.M. ... Despite the great deal of work that's been accomplished on the Collier Butte Fire, officials say the incident is far from over. 

Anticipated rain this weekend should help, but fire commanders don't expect the moisture to spell the end of the fire that 's been burning in Oregon's Kalmiopsis Wilderness since August 2nd.

The fire remains at 11,100 acres and 55 percent containment.

Firefighters are patrolling all primary containment lines, mopping-up burning and smoldering materials and securing perimeters as needed. 

Although a significant amount of rain is anticipated on the fire this weekend, personnel are repeatedly reminded to remain vigilant. Fuels remain extremely dry and highly receptive to any ignition source. There is a reasonable chance that a re-burn could occur in some areas of the fire. Dead, dry needles have fallen from trees in some burned areas creating a carpet of flashy fuels up to an inch thick.

Today, firefighters will work to extend contingency line to the Illinois River in the north. Managers plan to stretch line across the river south of Oak Flat in Curry County and wrap around the community on its south and east sides, thereby providing an added measure of protection to the area.
 
Additionally, personnel will continue to construct waterbars wherever possible in anticipation of the predicted rain event this weekend. One inch or more is possible in the fire area. A rain event will help to cool hot spots and aid mop-up operations. It will also slow the fire’s spread to the east in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. Helicopters have been delivering water to heat sources on this flank of the fire, and it will continue to be monitored by aircraft as conditions allow.

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26, 10:45 P.M. ... The Collier Butte fire continues to slowly spread in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, but natural barriers with sparse vegetation are limiting fire growth to the east.  This flank of the fire will be monitored by air and if necessary, helicopter water drops will be used to cool the fire’s edge.

 

This fire has burned 11,100 acres so far. It's now 55 percent contained.

As mop-up continues along the primary containment lines, other personnel and equipment will carry on rehabilitating roads and chipping the large piles of brush and slash created during development of alternate and contingency lines.

Local resource advisors oversee the repairs in areas where active suppression is no longer needed. Installing waterbars and pulling berms back onto lines are examples of repair strategies; these actions allow the impacted areas to return to a more natural state by holding soil and vegetation in place.

Southern winds will continue to move smoke north from California wildfires toward the Oregon coast. Smoke may be visible along south coast communities and Agness for the remainder of the fire season.  For information concerning smoke impacts, please visit the Oregon Smoke Information website.

The Emergency Area Closure remains in place on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Please see the Facebook page or the Inciweb page listed above for all closure information. The temporary flight restriction over the fire area also remains in place.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUGUST 25, 11:00 A.M. ... Mop-up and burn-out operations continue as firefighters gain on the Collier Butte fire east of Gold Beach on Curry County.

As of this morning, the fire has burned 10,812 acres and remains 40 percent contained.

Firefighters will work along the south containment line today to mop up, utilizing hand tools and water from hose lays. Larger inaccessible hotspots will be controlled with bucket drops from helicopters. Crews and engines will again patrol the containment lines on the west and north flanks.  Crews will remain diligent to the fires movement as winds over the fire area will be shifting throughout the day.
 
Needles and weakened trees have started to fall on previously burned areas, the potential for re-burn remains a threat. As the wildfire continues to slowly spread in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, natural barriers with sparse vegetation are limiting fire growth to the east Firefighters.  Helicopters will be used to cool the fire’s edge.
 
Alternate fire lines and other suppression areas which are no longer needed are being repaired to standards provided by resources advisors. Waterbars and pulling berms back onto lines are examples of repair strategies, these actions allow the impacted areas to return to a more natural state by holding soil and vegetation in place.
 
With the south, west and north fire lines secure, a transfer of command from Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 3 to a local incident management team will take place Wednesday morning.  The incoming Team will shadow Team 3 today to gain insight on the fire suppression activities and tactics utilized.
 
ORIGINAL POST: MONDAY, AUGUST 24 ... Firefighters continue to gain on the Collier Butte fire that's slowly burning in Oregon's Kalmiopsis Wilderness, east of Gold Beach in Curry County.

The three-week-old lightning-caused fire now up to 9.600 acres and is 40 percent contained.

Sunday, crews finished burning along the south containment lines, creating a fuel break from the Big Craggies to the 1376 road system.  Firefighters are working to secure the fire’s edge by extinguishing burning vegetation along the completed containment lines.  

 
A helicopter equipped with an aerial ignition device will add depth to the burnout by dropping small incendiary spheres to remove interior pockets of unburned fuel.  Other helicopters will be available for waters drops to cool hot spots and limit fire growth.
 
Firefighters will continue to patrol and secure containment lines on the west flank.  Chipping and brushing operations will progress north from FR 3318 to the Illinois River to remove fuel along this alternate line.  Crews and equipment will repair damage from fire suppression activities on alternate lines that are no longer needed.
 
The fire continues to slowly spread to the east in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, but has not crossed the Illinois River.  Natural barriers with sparse vegetation are limiting fire growth in that direction.  Helicopters may also be utilized to slow the fire from spreading eastward.
 
Burnout operations play an important role in securing the southern containment line by preventing the fire from spread into Mislatnah Creek and the Chetco River watershed.  Current water sources in the vicinity have been adequate to support the needs of the burnout.  To date, there has been no water withdrawal from the Chetco River, and none are anticipated. If absolutely necessary, however, the following measures will be taken: (1) tenders will be filled before leaving Gold Beach, (2) fish screens will be used in coho critical habitat, (3) no helicopters will dip from the Chetco, and (4) no more than 12,000 gallons per day would be removed – an impact of 0.03% of the overall daily flow.
 
Steep terrain, an abundance of snags and the potential for the fire to re-burn previously burned areas presents challenges to firefighter safety.  Smoke may be visible throughout the remainder of the fire season.  For information on closures on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, please see the Collier Butte fire Facebook page or the incident's Inciweb page.
 
Businesses along the south coast and Rogue River remain open and welcome visitors.  Residents and visitors to Gold Beach, Brookings and nearby communities are encouraged to drive carefully as firefighter traffic has increased in the area.  With extreme drought conditions in southwestern Oregon, the public is encouraged to use caution outdoors.  Any type of spark or flame may ignite a wildfire.  Please follow local fire restrictions and remain mindful of fire prevention.