White River Fire Update 8/28

This is the Friday 8/28 Report:

The White River Fire moved significantly yesterday, crossing control lines to the east and spotting across the river to the south. It moved from national forest land to state and private lands. The fire threatened structures in Pine Grove, leading to a Level 3 “GO” Evacuation Order from the Wasco County Sheriff. A Level 3 Order means EVACUATE NOW.

Yesterday several crews on the ground and aircraft moved to initial attack, working spot fires lofted embers out to 2000 feet.  Fire managers used several firefighting aircraft to help suppress fire where conditions allowed and were effective. Local firefighting resources assisted with structural protection near the community of Pine Grove.

Because of the fire’s proximity to Pine Grove, the Governor declared a Conflagration Act enabling the State Fire Marshall to bring 15 structural protection engines to the fire. Also, the incoming Type 1 team (PNWIIMT 3) has added capacity including structural protection managers.

In addition to  initial attack on the fire yesterday, fire crews continued to scout, evaluate, and implement primary control line options and evaluate and implement alternative opportunities. They will continue those activities today. The fire is now 9,791 acres.  There are 614 personnel working the fire.

Air quality:   The monitor in Madras, OR shows moderate air quality for the area.  With increased fire activity during athe day, air quality may move from moderate to poor. 

Flight Restriction:   A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect prohibiting people from flying in the area.

White River Fire Closures:   The Mt Hood National Forest increased the closure area around the fire.  For the latest closure information and specifics on closed campgrounds, recreation areas, trails and roads, see the forest Facebook page and Inciweb https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/7013 /

Evacuations:   The Wasco County Sheriff has issued the following Evacuation notices as of Thursday night, Aug. 27, 2020:

Level 3 – GO: The area east from Bear Springs Ranger Station along Hwy 216 through Pine Grove to the intersection of Endersby Rd and 216, also included are all of Endersby Rd, Linns Mill Rd and Kelly Springs Rd, including the community of Pine Grove.  EVACUATE NOW. 

Level 2 – GET SET Area from Back Walters Rd / Walters Rd / Kelly Springs Rd Intersection to Eldersby Rd / 216 Intersection along Victor Rd to the Claymier Lane/ Old Wapinita Hwy Intersection to Old Wapinita Hwy/ Wapinita Hwy/Reservation Road to Reservation Rd/Back Walters Rd Intersection.

Level 2 – Get Set: All residences on Smock Road west of the intersection of Smock Road and Ayres Road to include all residences on Barber Lane and Farlow Road.

Level 1 – Be Ready: The area east from Bear Springs Ranger Station along Hwy 216 through Pine Grove to the intersection of Endersby Rd and 216, also included are all of Endersby Rd, Linns Mill Rd and Kelly Springs Rd.

Level 1 – Be Ready: All residences on Smock Road west of the intersection of Smock Road and Ayres Road to include all residences on Barber Lane and Farlow Road.

Level 1 – Be Ready: The Sportsman’s Park.

This is the Wednesday 8/26 Report:

The White River Fire grew yesterday to approximately 2,290 acres based on information received late last night.  Northwest winds were amplified as they aligned with the White River drainage increasing fire activity and creating many embers which flowed downwind and started spot fires in the receptive dry vegetation.  Individual and small groups of trees torched and in places the fire ran through the crowns – treetop to treetop. The fire moved approximately 2.5 miles east/southeast staying north of the White River. It grew into flatter terrain with less vegetation and where there is more opportunity to contain the fire than on the slopes of the White River canyon to the west.

Due to dry northwest winds over the upcoming days and yesterday’s fire growth, fire managers have reassessed planned containment and have brought in additional firefighters and fire managers to implement the plan. 

On the north side of the fire, firefighters will continue the same work they have been doing.  They will be  preparing for low intensity firing along Forest Road 48, firing as conditions allow, preparing and securing fire lines, patrolling and securing spot fires, and monitoring the fire perimeter along the White River on the south side of fire.

Fire managers will continue to review firefighting plans, keeping firefighter and public safety as their first priority. They have asked firefighters to watch for rolling material, burned roots on green trees, and spot fires that have not been detected. Undetected spots can grow quickly.

Three new firefighting crews arrived late yesterday, adding to the 447 complement of personnel.  

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect prohibiting people from flying in the area.

White River Fire Closuresn area closure takes effect today for an area that includes the fire and extended areas outside of the fire. See a list of road, recreation area, and trail closure at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7013/53534/

Evacuations

The Wasco County Sheriff has determined that additional or elevated evacuations are not necessary.  As of August 26 at 11 am, the Level 1 evacuation (Ready) remains in effect for the Sportsmans Park and Rock Creek areas.

This is the Tuesday 8/25 Report:

On Monday, August 24, we lost a member of our firefighting family in a tragic helicopter accident on the White River Fire in Mt. Hood National Forest.  Our condolences go out to the pilot’s family, friends, and co-workers.

The helicopter was a Type 1 Kmax that was conducting bucket drops on the fire to help battle the blaze, which was burning in rough terrain.

Wasco County Sheriff’s Office and USDA Forest Service air and ground resources responded immediately to the accident site. There will be an investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have been notified.

A Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect prohibiting people from flying in the area.

Today’s plan

As fire managers review firefighting plans, as they do every day, they will continue to keep firefighter and public safety as their first priority.    

Today, firefighters are continuing to prepare for low intensity firing operations, when conditions warrant,  along the east and west ends of the fire toward the White River.  Along the north side, they continue to remove unburned fuels between Forest Road 48 and the main fire.  In the areas of rugged terrain to the south, fire crews will use lookouts to detect any spot fires.

Weather today is similar to yesterday with slightly higher temperatures and minimum rrelative humidity in the 20s.

The White River Fire is now 1289 aces, containment is 15%, with 354 personnel assigned to the fire.

White River Fire Closures: An area closure takes effect today for an area that includes the fire and extended areas outside of the fire. See a list of road, recreation area, and trail closure at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7013/53534/

This is the Monday 8/24 Report:

White River Fire crews continue to prepare for low intensity firing operations along the east and west ends of the fire toward the White River.  Along the north side, they continue to remove unburned fuels between highway 48 and the main fire.  Firing operations will continue in these areas as conditions allow.

Low intensity firing operations are often used in fire management. If planned and executed correctly they can control the fire, reduce suppression costs, and protect cultural and natural resources. Fire managers are using low intensity fire to secure lines on the White River Fire, a strategy that will take several days.

Today, the fire is likely to be active with temperatures of 77-82 degrees and west winds of 7 to 15 mph.  Ridgetop wind gusts are likely to increase this afternoon.  Firefighters will watch for possible short runs up steep slopes where slope and wind align.  They will also watch for and secure spot fires. 

On the south side of the fire along the White River, firefighters will monitor the perimeter using aircraft and lookouts to detect any spot fires that may occur south of the river.

The White River Fire is currently 1102 acres, with 304 personnel working the fire. 

Closures:

White River Fire Trail closures: Crane Creek, Crane Prairie, Boulder Lake, Forest Creek, Hidden Meadows, Bonney Meadows, Threemile, and all of the Rock Creek OHV Area.

Recreation site closures:  White River Station, Forest Creek, Keeps Mill, Boulder Lake, Little Boulder Lake, Post Camp, Camp Windy’ Bonney Meadows, Post Point OHV Staging Area, Gate Creek OHV Staging Area, Barlow Crossing, Rock Creek Campground and day use area.

Road closures: 4410/3550 jnctn; Bennet Pass snopark (3550); 48/4890 jnctn; 43/3530 jnctn; 43/3530-230; 35/48 jnctn; 4890/4891 jnctn; 48/4880 jnctn; 3530/3530-230; 2710/2710/160; 4810 just northwest of Camp Cody; 48 just south of Rock Creek Reservoir CG; 4820 just west of Rock Creek Reservoir CG; all classs 3 road barricades unless otherwise noted.

For more information see: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7013/53534/

Evacuations:The Wasco County Sheriff has posted a Level 1 Evacuation notice (Ready) for Sportsman Park and the Rock Creek area.   https://www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff/posts/1837027263105452

This is the Sunday 8/23 Report:

The White River Fire is currently 1102 acres.  Firefighters continue to make progress along Forest Road 48.  The road is a control line on the north side of the fire. Rather than working directly on the fire edge, firefighters are bringing the fire to the control line using low intensity fire to remove fuels between the road and the main fire.

The Barlow Road and the White River are on the south side of the fire. There firefighters are watching for spot fires outside control lines.  The river is in a steep canyon and difficult to reach.  Crews are putting in hand line on the west side of the fire between the 48 road and the river.

Fire managers said that securing lines and bringing fire to the lines will take several days. They are coordinating with local agencies to protect forest, cultural and scenic resources, while containing the fire.

Much of the smoke people are seeing in nearby communities could be from the White River Fire or from other fires in the Pacific Northwest. 

Today’s temperatures will be in the from 80s, relative humidity 17-22%, and winds from the south during the day, changing to the northwest in the late afternoon and evening. Wind speeds forcasted at 5-6 mph in the valley and 5-10 mph on the ridgetops.   

Closures:

For information on expanded road closures, trail closures, campground closures and day-use sites, please check the White River Fire on Inciweb for up-to-date closure information. https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7013/53534/

Evacuations:The Wasco County Sheriff has posted a Level 1 Evacuation notice for Sportsman Park and the Rock Creek area.   https://www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff/posts/1837027263105452

For information on what the 1-2-3 evacuation notice levels mean go to:
https://www.oregon.gov/osp/Docs/Evacuation-Levels.pdf

To sign up for Wasco County’s Citizen Alert System go to: 
https://member.everbridge.net/453003085612392/login

This is the Wednesday 8/19 Report:

Today firefighters located a spot fire on the north side of Forest Road 48 approximately 1.5 mile from the main fire. A helicopter kept the fire in check with water drops while a 20 person crew established line around the spot fire. Tomorrow the spot fire, estimated between 2 and 5 acres, should be in mop up stage. 

Work on the main fire today included indirect dozer line along the east flank between Forest Road 48 and White River.  Forest Road 48 was patrolled and a few smaller spot fires where extinguished. 

Winds continue to be a key factor in suppressing the fire. The fire is estimate to be 450 acres. These less favorable fire weather conditions are expected to continue Thursday.  The communities east of the fire will be smokey while Mt Hood itself is not expected to be.  

Given the complexities of this fire, the Mt Hood National Forest has ordered a Type 2 Incident Management Team to take over management of the fire. Over the next two days the current Type 3 team will transition with the incoming team. The fairgrounds in Tygh Valley will be the Incident Command Post.  

Additional information, pictures, maps and closure information is updated on the White River Fire web page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7013/.  

Wasco County Sheriff issued a Level 1 Evacuation Notice this afternoon for the Sportsman’s Park and Rock Creek Area.  See Wasco County Sheriff’s Facebook Page for their announcement.  Links are in the above web page under announcements. 

This is the Tuesday 8/18 Report:

Monday, August 17, firefighters discovered and performed initial attack on the White River Fire on the Mt Hood National Forest. The fire is located 13 miles southeast of Government Camp in the White River drainage near Forest Road 48. The closest community is Sportsman’s Park which is 8 miles to the east. It is currently estimated to be 150 acres.

Hand crews with support from a dozer operator are establishing fire line. Water drops from helicopters have been critical by minimizing the fire’s spread while line is being constructed. Approximately 60 firefighters are working the fire.

Monday temperature’s reached 100F with winds blowing 12-15 MPH which tested containment efforts. A spot fire was located ½ mile east of the main fire. Smoke has primarily been carried eastward toward Rock Creek Reservoir and Wamic.

Road closures are in place.

  • Forest Road 48 (White River Rd) from Forest Road 43 east to Forest Road 4880
  • Forest Road 3530 (Barlow Rd) from Forest Road 43 east to Forest Creek Campground
  • Forest Road 4890 from Forest Road 4880 to Forest Road 48

Rock Creek Campground is open, but access should be made from the east.