IMPACT TO STAFF/PERSONNEL: All staff evacuated and are safe; we thank everyone who sent support to displaced staff through our GoFundMe fundraiser. Our thoughts and support extend to the broader community impacted by the wildfires. McKenzie River Ranger District employees are working hard to control the fire approaching the Andrews Forest Headquarters, even as many have lost homes to the fire. You can provide direct support to these members of our community by contributing to the following GoFundme fundraisers: Uninsured McKenzie River District Employees and Firefighters Who Lost Homes to McKenzie Fire. Donations made to the American Red Cross or United Way will also support disaster relief for victims of the wildfires in Oregon.
Rain! Last night rain fell across the fires in the Oregon Cascades. While the rain wasn’t enough to stop the fires, and the eastern edge of the fire including Andrews Forest received the least, satellite data indicate a slowing in fire activity across the region. There is potential for another quarter of an inch of rain later today and tonight.
Recent hot spots at the north end of the reservoir could indicate continued movement or, possibly, represent backburning activity of fire crews. For the Mona and Andrews Forest portion of the fire zone: A type 1 crew has shifted from the southern perimeter of the fire to help with fire lines and containment to keep the fire out of Andrews Forest headquarters. The 1510 and 622 roads to the north of Mona are still holding, so if crews are able to strengthen and stabilize the lines protecting the Andrews Forest, they will shift more resources to tighten lines to contain the fire south of those roads.
As fire progress slows today, we have an opportunity to pause and reflect, and we do so within the context of loss and disturbance across the region: hundreds of families lost their homes in the fire, thousands are displaced, hazardous air has affected virtually every area of the state, well over a million acres of forest burned in Oregon, and crews continue to work tirelessly to protect structures, slow the fire, and restore critical services to affected areas.
At the Andrews Forest specifically, Watersheds 1, 2, and 9 are within the fire boundary. We don’t know yet about the intensity of the fire in the watersheds. Research infrastructure within Watersheds 1, 2, and 9, that may be affected by the fire, includes stream gages used to measure stream flow and stream chemistry for decades, a mesocosm and well field used to measure waterflow and biological activity through stream sediments and soil, vegetation plots that have been studied for decades to track changes in vegetation over time, a tower instrumented to measure air flow, soil pits used to evaluate soil type and carbon, soil moisture monitoring stations, plus various loggers, remote sensors, solar panels, and batteries used to support automated data collection. We’re uncertain about the climate station, CS2met, used to measure climate and weather data since the late 1950s (https://andrewsforest.oregonstate.edu/research/infrastructure/climate).
Researchers are already considering ways to retool and respond to the fire, within the Andrews Forest and regionally. Long-term data from the Andrews Forest provide a solid foundation for understanding the affects of the fire now and into the future.
For the area in around the Andrews Forest: Crews are continuing back burning and are looking at clearing a wider buffer along additional roads to help with control if the fire progresses. They are working to protect headquarters, which was mentioned very specifically in this morning’s briefing. After the rains it may be possible to shift more resources to this area from other parts of the fire perimeter. Crews feel very good about containment on the east side of the fire on the south side of the Lookout Creek (HJA) watershed down to HWY 126 and from 126 south to Cougar reservoir.
Weather: As the storm system moves in, south winds may increase enough ahead of the rain to result in mixing down to the surface, which would potentially increase fire activity. It might also clear smoke enough to allow for use of aerial resources, but increased wind without enough mixing to clear smoke is also a possibility. As the storm hits the fire area this afternoon there is potential for severe thunderstorms, with high winds, lightning, hail and downpours. The fire area should receive 0.25-0.5 inches of precipitation this afternoon and evening, with much higher amounts possible if thunderstorms impact the fire area directly. Due to this possibility there is a flash flood watch for the fire area and Cascades in Lane County more generally. The weather system is likely to impact safety measures and operations throughout the fire area today. Rain should continue on Friday.
No updated information is currently available on when power will be restored to the upper McKenzie east of Rainbow, but an update may be available soon.
Satellite data show that the fire continues to creep, albeit slowly, into Watershed 2. The fire perimeter now encompasses Watershed 9 and most or all of Watershed 1. We have not yet heard reports from on-the-ground personnel about fire behavior and burn severity on this portion of the fire. Progression of the fire is slow, thanks to efforts of the fire crews and the cooler weather of the past week. The headquarters facilities lay just north of the fire boundary. Fire crews have put in lines and prepared the area to protect the buildings.
Today’s InciWeb update and Facebook Live Meeting covered information on the overall fire and suppression efforts; most of it is hopeful. The InciWeb update states that, “The suppression strategy uses a combination of roads, ridges and hand line to control the fire’s spread. Across the lengthy perimeter of the fire crews are making steady progress. Equipment operators are widening existing roads, building dozer lines and removing trees to create solid control lines. Hand crews are following up, connecting control features and completing burnout operations to remove fuels between the main body of the fire and control lines.”
As mentioned in the Facebook Live meeting, along the NE perimeter of the fire boundary, where it connects with the Andrews Forest, crews are “trying to get things worked out using the road systems.”
According to the satellite data, within the boundary of the Andrews Forest, fire has covered all of Watershed 9, moved into a large portion of Watershed 1, and is entering Watershed 2. As some background: Watersheds 9 and 2 are ancient forests, Watershed 1 has been a nexus of ecosystem studies in recent decades, and all three watersheds have been instrumented for long-term study of stream flow and water chemistry for many decades. If you’re curious about the watersheds, see Experimental Watersheds and Gauging Stations.
Rain, wind, and thunderstorms are in the forecast. As the smoke lifts, crews can bring in air support for fire suppression. The wind and thunderstorms are potentially problematic, but crews are at the ready for new fires.
In the Mona and HJA area: The 1510 road is still viable as a containment line on the north end, and the fire is not moving rapidly there. Crews were able to conduct a small back burn last night in the vicinity of upper Watershed 1.
Weather: Similar to yesterday with slightly lower temps and slightly higher humidity. The weather system moving in is gradually eroding the smoke from above. There will likely be thinner smoke on the ridges and therefore more active fire. Rain probabilities are still good for Thursday, but there may be thunderstorms associated with the arrival of the weather system on Thursday afternoon. There is potential for new lightning starts and also for downpours on portions of the fire-scarred terrain. For Thursday afternoon and night, rainfall is likely in the 0.25-0.5 inch range, with higher amounts up to an inch in any downpours associated with thunderstorms.
Air support: Resources are still standing by due to smoke. There are a number of aircraft available with capacities ranging from 300-2000 gallons of water. Leaburg lake is being refilled for use by the larger helicopters for filling.
Structures along 126: Mop-up is going well around the 1000 structures within the fire footprint along Hwy 126. They are hoping to allow homeowners in to houses up as far as Deerhorn Road. Power is being returned to portions of HWY 126 above the Blue River substation.
Fire is well into Watershed 1 and covers Watershed 9. Satellite data indicate that the fire may be getting into Watershed 2. The fire progress is slow; we heard from the fire information line that, "The fire has been laying low the past few days with the cooler weather and while still growing has not made big runs."
We just received an update from the fire crew working around and within the Andrews Forest. They completed fuel treatment around the headquarters and have the sprinklers set up. They are encouraged that they can save the buildings. They said, "it's a waiting game now." Within the boundary of the site, "firefighters are aware of limiting ground disturbance and are doing what they need to stop fire's progression." Our heartfelt thanks go out to the crews who have been working on the fire. Rain is forecasted for later in the week. We remain hopeful!
Today's InciWeb Report details efforts on clean up and asssement of structures along HWY 126.
Overall fire: Reports are down from over 200 potentially missing persons to no more than 13 unaccounted for. There were at least 1,000 structures within the fire perimeter. Structural assessment and fire mop-up efforts are ongoing and the hope is that mop-up around structures that are still standing will be completed within 48 hours. There is potential for the smoke to lift enough to use aviation resources on the fire today, but that would be accompanied by an increase in fire activity.
Mona/HJA portion of fire: As visible on the satellite maps there was an increase in fire activity last night. Crews are still trying to prevent the fire from reaching Andrews Forest infrastructure. The 1510 road is still viable as a containment line on the north side of the Mona side of the fire.
Fire activity progressed into more of Watersheds 1 and 9. The fire advanced substantially on both sides of the reservoir, and now threatens to enter the Andrews Forest near the entrance road to the headquarters and the 1506 road that winds along Lookout Creek. Fire crews are working the area. We will share more information as we receive it.
New areas of fire continue to grow within Watersheds 1 and 9, and northeastward from Mona towards the bottom of the Andrews Forest watershed. Fire crews are still working on the line around the Andrews Forest and trying to contain the fire on the Mona side by using the road network including the 1510. There are now more than 800 people working on fire suppression efforts for the Holiday Farm Fire. The major concern for spread today through Wednesday will be potential for more active fire if the smoke inversion lifts. Significant rain is not forecasted for the fire zone before Thursday. The highway 126 corridor heading east from Springfield is still a major safety issue and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Even with just authorized vehicles in the fire zone, traffic control and safety are a major concern and challenge.
The current Inciweb report states that "An infrared flight that usually takes place overnight to show changes in fire growth did not occur last night. The most current information estimates the fire perimeter at 161,826 acres."
Satellite data show new hot spots of fire along the ridge of Watershed 1, in the southwest corner of the site. Perhaps more concerning is the northeastward advancement of the fire in the Mona creek drainage, across the Blue River Reservoir. The fire coming up from Mona poses a real risk of entering the bottom of the watershed of the Andrews Forest and then running up the slopes. At this point, the fires are less than a mile from our research station facilities.
The fire has been active in the WS1/9 and Mona area. Crews were not able to back burn the lines and they may not be able to now. The incident commander stated that protection of the Andrews Forest headquarters is a high priority. They set up sprinklers around buildings at headquarters but are waiting on using the water tank to run them since there is not an easy way to power the pump with a generator, while the power is out.
There is some positive news on power prospects for the Mckenzie corridor above the Blue River substation, which mostly survived the fire. The portion of the highway up to Blue Sky market may have power next week.
Satellite maps show fire activity along the southern boundary of the Andrews Forest, into Watershed 1 and Watershed 9.
Rob Mutch, USFS Fire Lookout and photographer, sent the following report and image: "I was driven from Sisters back over to McKenzie this morning [Sept 12]. We drove through the 126 corridor up to the Blue River reservoir. It was very kafkaesque or apocalyptic with the typical moonscape of a recent fire: burning logs, standing burnt trees, dense smoke, falling ash. The burn ended about a mile [south] from the Blue Reservoir Campground."
We remain watchful as the fire moves into the south ridge along Watersheds 1 and 9. Fires moving north along the west side of the reservoir also pose a threat. Fire crews are working the area, and the weather is in their favor, with low winds, high humidity, and rain on the forecast for mid week.
Tonight's Holiday Farm Fire Operations Update provided the following information: Along the SE edge of the fire, east of Rainbow, they are using roads and cutting control lines to move the fire away from residences. Fire activity is now moderated along the SE line. They are working all the way across the south line of the fire, trying to set a perimeter. They are working to minimize the threat along the SW, where the fire is more active. On the north side of HWY from Leaburg, they are working to close off the extensions and have been able to reduce evacuation levels in the NE area. On the north side, industry and fire teams with heavy equipment are putting in lines along the ridges and working along toward the Blue River Reservoir. Fire seems to be moving up hill and then stalling at the top of the ridges.
The fire is now at 165,000 acres (256 square miles), 5% contained (containment means that lines will hold on their own without further support). They expect to see more containment tomorrow. They need about 200 miles of perimeter and that’s going to take a while. Weather has been working in their favor, with the inversion creating some containment.
Over 600 people are assigned to the fire, with resources coming in from as far as Canada and Mexico.
Expect HWY126 to be closed to the public for a long time yet to come.
According to the Holiday Farm ODOF Incident Management report, "Yesterday, the fire grew by about 5,000 acres, raising the total to 161,826 acres. The fire perimeter is nearly 200 miles. It remains 0% contained. Calmer weather over the fire moderated fire behavior, although a few spots fire were reported and quickly controlled. A stubborn layer of thick smoke has hampered air operations, but aircraft remain available if conditions improve."
Satellite maps show heat spots inside the top of Watershed 1. We haven’t seen anything inside Watershed 9 yet, but it is close. Fire crews have been trying to do nighttime overflights, and their mapping may be more accurate than the satellite maps. We will publish a new update when we have more confirmed information. We know that fire crews are working the area and are doing their best. Our heartfelt thanks go out to the many fire crews and emergency personnel working the fires across the region.
An InciWeb Update notes that the fire is now 156,708 acres and 0% contained.
See the CalTopo fire activity map.
Note that Andrews Forest real-time data pages will not be updated until power is restored to the site or until we reconfigure the network to utilize other centers. The PRIMET climate station stopped collecting automatic data shortly after power went out on Monday, Sept 7.
North of Highway 126: Hand line has been completed on the east side of fire, tying in to 15 road along the reservoir. The hope is to back burn on that line tonight. Crews are also trying to use the 1510 road for containment on the NE edge of the fire.
South of Highway 126: Containment on the east line south to Cougar reservoir is holding and they are doing mop up along that line and trying to extend containment lines on roads to the SW.
Overall: The fire grew to ca. 156,000 acres overnight (night of Sept 10). There are 425 people assigned now to the Holiday Farm fire; 24 National Guard will arrive today to help with access control points. Nobody should be traveling on HWY 126 or into any of the evacuation zones.
Fire continues to spread throughout the area, with some progression towards the Andrews Forest site.
A September 10th press conference (30 minutes) on the Holiday Farm Fire details that the fire covers 144,586 acres, along HWY 126, and affects the communities of Rainbow, Blue River, Vida, McKenzie Bridge, Leaburg, Waterville, and Fall Creek, with significant loss of homes. There are 17,632 evacuees from the area. At about 6 minutes and 30 seconds into the press conference they show a map and explain efforts at the east end of the fire line, near the Andrews Forest. It sounds like they're working hard to hold that line. The highway and area remain closed.
Fire crews are going hard trying to get containment along the 15 road at the reservoir. They don’t think they will keep the fire out of Andrews Forest entirely – it will spill over into the lower watersheds at a minimum – but they have some hope of keeping it out of headquarters. All depends upon what happens as the winds shift. Fire crews will be clearing vegetation and back-burning along the 15 road to make the containment line stronger/wider.
We have word that saving the Andrews Forest headquarters is "one of the highest priorities" for fire crews right now. Crews are "working to solidify a line on the “heel” of the fire on its eastern flank. They have an incident command set up and resources are starting to pour in, but the region is pretty strapped." Our thanks go out to the fire crews who have been working tirelessly across the region to save lives and infrastructure. New information on the fire is posted on InciWeb: "The fire was mapped using an Infrared overflight last night at 144,695 acres. Containment remains at 0%. 207 personnel are assigned to the incident. Today, firefighters are expecting to see very unstable weather conditions across the fire area. Winds are expected to shift and begin blowing out of the west today and relative humidity is expected to remain between 10-15%. These weather conditions may contribute to another day of very active fire behavior."
Staff who evacuated are spread out across the region, staying in hotels, RV parks, or in homes of friends and family. You can help by contributing to this GoFundMe fundraiser for the displaced families' emergency temporary housing expenses until they can get back to their homes.
The Andrews Forest has not burned, though the fire remains at the doorstep, halfway up the Blue River Reservoir. All crew/staff evacuated successfully and are accounted for. The USFS Fire Lookout, posted on Carpenter Mountain, was evacuated successfully via helicopter.
Access to the field site is prohibited and the highway remains closed.
The Holiday Farm fire continued to move westerly, towards Eugene/Springfield, pushed by strong winds from the east. Current conditions, closures, and evacuation information can be accessed via InciWeb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7170/55358/
A fire in the McKenzie River corridor, near the Andrews Forest, erupted the night of September 7. The fire is spreading quickly, fueled by strong winds, high temperatures, and dry conditions.
Staff and crew that were onsite have evacuated safely from Headquarters. Staff who live along the McKenzie River have evacuated from their homes.
Conditions are changing quickly and when we know more, we will share it.
Highway 126 is closed and fire has been reported into the town of Blue River.
More information can be found on the following sites:
ArcGIS US Wildfire Activity Web Map: https://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=df8bcc10430f48878b01c96e907a1fc3
AirNow Fire and Smoke Map: https://fire.airnow.gov
National Interagency Fire Center, wildfire perimeters: https://data-nifc.opendata.arcgis.com/datasets/wildfire-perimeters?geometry=-125.833%2C43.665%2C-118.824%2C45.040
Oregon Department of Forestry, fire pages: https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/pages/firestats.aspx
PurpleAir, near real time air quality conditions: https://www.purpleair.com/map?opt=1/mAQI/a10/cC0#1/25/-30
RAPTOR Public 2D, real-time assessement and planning tool for Oregon: https://geo.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=f8a0d8814a67445a9e6bf3485f4fd24f&fbclid=IwAR1LD7fRAS1-I5VSfh-kH5Mzssp6M9H6LCPED-zjlY2nU1RigHJQCYVfI0s
Zoom Earth, near real-time satellite images: https://zoom.earth/#view=41.5,-122,6z/date=2020-09-09,10:00,-7/layers=fires