SWEET HOME — Mid-valley temperatures that bumped triple digits this week combined with no rain for more than a month has led the Oregon Department of Forestry to move the local fire danger rating to “high,” Craig Pettinger of the ODF’s Sweet Home unit said Wednesday morning.
“There were quite a few lightning strikes on the east side of the mountains and some fires poking up, but we have been fortunate so far,” Pettinger said. “We haven’t sent anyone out yet, and we are fully staffed.”
Pettinger said a small fire in a farm field near Crawfordsville was quickly extinguished.
The industrial fire level was moved to two, Pettinger said. Most logging operations are shutting down by 1 p.m.
Cooler temperatures are forecast for the mid-valley. The high is expected to be in the mid-90s on Thursday, then taper off into the mid-80s for several days, with overnight lows in the 50s.
The U.S. Forest Service responded Wednesday to six fires on the Willamette National Forest and sent two aerial reconnaissance flights up looking for possible new smoke starts.
Claggett Fire, located near Crown Lake in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness, was the largest at approximately 2 acres in size. The fire is burning in heavy timber. A large helicopter dropped water on it and got it under control.
For public safety, Roaring Creek Trail (No. 3361), Crown Lake Trail (No. 3362), and Bear Point Trail (No. 3342) are closed. South Breitenbush Trail (No. 3375) is also closed from the intersection with Craig Trail (No. 3364) to its intersection with Bear Point Trail. Forest Service Road 4685 is closed just north of South Breitenbush Trailhead, as well as spur Road 4685-330. Nearby trailheads are also closed.
Several new starts are located on the Middle Fork Ranger District, with the largest fire at 1 acre on the slopes of Immigrant Butte. The fire is burning in steep ground, amid heavy timber and downed snags.
Wednesday morning on the McKenzie River Ranger District, smokejumpers were responding to a new start in the Mount Washington Wilderness.
Travelers are asked to be aware of increased fire traffic on forest roads.
Any visitors to the forest who see or smell smoke are asked to call 911.
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