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A helicopter with a bucket works the Fir Mountain Road fire southeast of Hood River Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. The Dalles Unit of the Oregon Department of Forestry is the lead agency on the fire. 

Update, Aug. 11 

313-acre Fir Mountain Fire reaches mop-up stage

With the Fir Mountain Fire at nearly full containment, Central Oregon Fire Management Service has transferred command of the Fir Mountain Fire back to Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) The Dalles Unit, ODF announced Monday.

Approximately 130 firefighters continue to staff the Fir Mountain Fire as a Type 4 organization. Operations continue to focus on mop-up of the interior of the fire and locating any hot spots near the perimeter. Resources include local contract hand crews and engines from ODF’s Northwest Oregon Area. Full containment of the fire is expected Wednesday.

Helicopters assigned to the fire will be released mid-day today to return to home areas or staff other fires. 

Local aircraft is available if air support is needed on the fire.  Engines assigned to the fire are available to respond to new fires if the need arises.

The Fir Mountain Fire is 313 acres and was first reported late on Aug. 1. The fire is human caused and under investigation. 

The Oregon Department of Forestry is seeking information related to finding the individual responsible for starting the Fir Mountain Fire.  Investigators were able to locate the point of origin for the fire and have determined it to be human caused. 

Fire danger level remains Extreme. Call the State Police Tip Line, 1-800-452-7888. 

The Wasco County Sheriff has removed all evacuations from the east side of the fire and reopened Godberson Road to public travel. 

Details are available on the Wasco County Sheriff’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff.  

Fir Mountain Road and associated side roads in Hood River County have also been reopened. The speed limit for the road has been reduced. The road is a single lane road in many places; use caution in the area and watch for activity associated with firefighting operations.

 

Update, Aug. 7 

Fire 60 percent contained; Level 3 Evacuation notice reduced to Level 1 

The Fir Mountain Fire remains 313 acres with a combination of dozer line, handline and roads around the perimeter and is now 60 contained.

Yesterday’s storm front produced minimal precipitation over the fire, but did bring significant winds, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry, and firefighters maintained the fire within its current footprint.

Today, firefighting resources continue mop-up operations utilizing hose lays. Resources are increasing the depth of cooled ground interior of the fireline to further secure the perimeter of the fire. Fire behavior remains minimal.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Department has reduced the Level 3 evacuation notice for 2900 Godberson Road to a Level 1. The Level 1 evacuation notice for Mosier Creek Road area from 3475 Mosier Creek Road to 3950 Mosier Creek Road to 1 mile south of 8020 Ketchum Road to 2000 Ketchum Road is still in effect as well.

For public safety road closures are in place for Godberson Road and Fir Mountain Road due to fire suppression activity.

Evacuation information is available at https://www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff.

The fire was first reported Aug. 1 and remains under investigation.

 

Update, Aug. 6 

Fire 50 percent contained; crews react to windy conditions 

Firefighters continue to make good progress on the Fir Mountain Fire, said the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF). The fire remains 313 acres and is now 50 percent contained.

By the end of yesterday’s day shift, the fire was lined around it’s perimeter by dozer line, handline and roads. Last night’s breezy conditions produced new interior consumption of previously unburned pockets within containment lines, said ODF, but firefighters held the fire within its existing footprint. On Thursday, fire resources will continue strengthening the perimeter by increasing the depth of cooled ground interior of the fireline. Resources will utilize hose lays to conduct mop-up operations.

As windy conditions are expected to remain over the incident today, firefighters will be gridding the perimeter of the fire for potential spot fires, said ODF. 

For public safety road closures are in place for Godberson Road and Fir Mountain Road due to fire suppression activity. Evacuation information for the eastern flank of the fire is available at https://www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff. The fire was first reported Aug. 1 and the cause remains under investigation.

Update, Aug. 5 

Firefighters establish fireline around 75 percent of perimeter; fire is 313 acres and 35 percent contained.

Overnight, the fire was held within the existing footprint and as of Wednesday morning, the fire has fireline around 75 percent of the perimeter, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. Fire resources focused Wednesday on completing construction of containment lines using existing roads and heavy equipment. Crews continued developing hoselays for water distribution throughout the fire. 

The fire was first reported Aug. 1 and the cause remains under investigation.

Strengthening firelines and securing the perimeter were the crews' main priorities, said ODF, as winds were expected to increase throughout the day.  Helicopters were available to drop water on hot spots as needed by ground crews.  

Mop-up activities will progress from the fire perimeter into the interior to further secure the fire.  

A vehicle accident involving a firefighter, not engaged on the fireline, occurred Tuesday evening, according to ODF. The firefighter was not injured and returned to duty on the fireline on Wednesday.

 For public safety, road closures are in still in place for Godberson Road and Fir Mountain Road due to fire suppression activity. Evacuation information for the eastern flank of the fire is available at https://www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff.

 

Update, Aug. 4 

New infrared camera data helps crews fight main fire and spot fires 

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) updated the acreage of the Fir Mountain Fire from roughly 250 acres to 313 acres Tuesday morning after receiving data from an infrared camera that crews flew over the fire late Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, the fire was at 15 percent containment. 

“This flight provided valuable information to firefighters as to the location of spot fires and the intensity of heat in the fire perimeter,” said an ODF press release. “Firefighters on the line can use this information to focus efforts and secure areas which pose the greatest risk for spotting outside the existing fireline.” 

The total acreage of the fire includes areas of unburned fuels between spot fires within the perimeter, according to ODF. 

“The heavy fuel load within the fire perimeter and the unburned fuel between spot fires creates a significant workload because of the intense heat in the large fuels, increased fireline needed along the perimeter of each ‘spot,’ and difficulty in constructing fireline to mineral soil in areas with vegetation,” said the press release. 

On Tuesday, aircraft worked to cool the east side of the fire to allow firefighters to continue constructing fireline on the perimeter of the main body of the fire and spot fires in that area. Crews are constructing hose lays on the west side of the fire to distribute water for mop-up and to use for cooling the fire edge as needed, said the press release. 

Approximately 200 fire fighters from Wy’East Fire, Mosier Fire, Hood River Fire and Parkdale Fire are assigned to the fire, along with the Mount Hood National Forest, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and the Hood River and Wasco County Sheriff’s offices 

Resources include dozers, skidgens, excavators, tenders, feller bunchers, wildland fire engines, Type 1 and Type 2 hand crews, helicopters, and air tankers. 

Resources assigned to the night shift have focused on mop-up work, opening roads for better access to the east side of the fire and containing any additional spotting, said the press release. 

Due to fire suppression activity — and to ensure public safety — road closures are in place for Godberson Road and Fir Mountain Road. Evacuation information for the eastern flank of the fire is available at www.facebook.com/WascoCountySheriff

For more information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

 

Update, Aug. 3

Crews battle Fir Mountain Fire: Blaze burns at Wasco-Hood River county line

By Kirby Neumann-Rea

Controlling the spot fires surrounding the main body of Fir Mountain fire was the main task Monday at the timber and wildland fire straddling the Hood River and Wasco County line.

Firefighters were challenged with wind and dry vegetation as they used dozers and hand crews to construct fireline on the fire perimeter. Air resources, including large air tankers and water scooping aircraft were used throughout the day to support ground resources in efforts to control the spread of the fire. As resources are available, air attack was scheduled to continue Monday (after press time). A fire camp has been established at Hood River County Fairgrounds in Odell.

The fire has grown to approximately 250 acres by Monday, burning on private forestland and Hood River County ownership.

The fire is located eight miles southeast of Hood River, burning east from Fir Mountain Road toward Godberson Road. Single tree torching and spotting across the fireline has hampered efforts to secure the perimeter in some areas. Dozers are being used to construct fireline where the terrain allows, and hand crews are working in areas where slope limits access for equipment.

The fire was reported late Saturday night. The cause is not yet known, according to Kyle Nairns of ODF, who said rising winds are a concerning factor in the spread of the fire. Gusts up to 13 miles an hour are forecast in Hood River Monday, with temperatures reaching the mid-80s. On Tuesday, the forecast was for lighter winds and mid-afternoon temperatures up to the mid-90s.

In addition to the fixed wing aircraft and helicopters working on the fire Monday, resources included three dozers, four tenders, six hand crews, five wildland fire engines, and numerous overhead. These include contract resources, Wy’East Fire, Mosier Fire, Hood River Fire, Parkdale Fire, Mount Hood National Forest, and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Hood River and Wasco County Sheriff’s offices are working with incident command to ensure public safety in the fire area.

DNR helicopters were dispatched out of Dallesport Sunday morning and made several aerial drops on the fire throughout the day. No structures are believed threatened, according to Wy’east chief Greg Borton. The fire is the first large one this summer in Hood River County.

ODF’s Christie Shaw said Monday that on Sunday afternoon and evening, “we were battling trying to get a big picture view of the fire, as the plume of smoke spread over the top of it. Sunday night we could see there were a dozen spot fires and it gave us a better picture.

“The goal Monday is to get dozer lines around the spot fires and maintain control of those,” Shaw said. The fire was first reported to be a mile or more south, near the Pinemont staging area. ODF and private contract firefighters assembled Sunday morning at Moore Orchards on Highway 35 near the intersection with Ehrck Hill Road.

“Excited to get to work,” said firefighter Sam Taylor of The Dalles. “We feel for people around here and want to get it under control and keep it away from houses and people.”

Crews including those staging heavy equipment lined up Fir Mountain Road just east of Odell Sunday morning, and vehicle access to the areas north and east of the Pine Grove and Odell areas were restricted to local only because of the numbers of fire vehicles staging on the narrow, winding roads.

A Type 3 Team from Central Oregon Fire Management Service took command of the fire Monday, bringing management and resources from Deschutes, Jefferson and Crook counties. Resources will staff the fire Monday, taking advantage of cooler temperatures and humidity recovery but will continue to experience strong winds on the exposed ridgetops. Firefighters will be focusing to secure existing fireline and minimize spread of the fire.

For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

A 125-acre wildfire on the northeast flanks of Fir Mountain in Hood River County started at about 10 p.m. Saturday night and is being fought on the ground and by air.

Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is in command with local fire agencies including Wy’east Fire District, and ODF personnel coming from as far away as Fossil and John Day. Private firefighting contractors are also on the scene, and DNR helicopters were dispatched out of Dallesport Sunday morning and made several aerial drops on the fire. More aerial attacks are planned Sunday afternoon, according to ODF’s Christie Shaw

The flames are in trees and grassland near Fir Mountain and Huskey Roads, and no structures are believed threatened as of Sunday morning, according to Wy’east chief Greg Borton. The fire is the first large one this summer in Hood River County.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, according to Kyle Nairns of ODF, who said rising winds are a concerning factor in the apparent spread of the fire.

“Excited to get to work,” said firefighter Sam Taylor of The Dalles. “We feel for people around here and want to get it under control and keep it away from houses and people.”

Crews including those staging heavy equipment lined up Fir Mountain Road just east of Odell Sunday morning, and vehicle access to the areas north and east of the Pine Grove and Odell areas is restricted to local only because of the numbers of fire vehicles staging on the narrow, winding roads.

 

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