The Bull Fire is now almost 20,000 acres large and is still the primary factor contributing to smoke in the mid-Willamette Valley. The fire is considered 7% contained, according to the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team assigned to combat the blaze.
The fire is a culmination of five different blazes started by lightning strikes on Aug. 2. Three of the fires, the Janus, Kola and Ridge fires, were located on the southeast corner of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness area in Marion County. A fourth fire, the Round Lake Fire, was located in the east of the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. A fifth fire, the Ogre Creek Fire, was located in the Round Lake Area.
Early in the fire’s activity these distinct blazes made a run towards each other and have converged to form what is now the Bull Complex Fire. The fire has been active most recently in the Upper Dickey Creek, Mother Lode Creek and Pansey Creek areas, where it is expected to continue gaining ground.
The fire has grown on the southeast side up to the scar of the last year’s Lionshead Fire. While containment lines are being built, fire officials predict that the reduced amount of fuels on the ground in these already-burned areas will slow the fire’s spread. This is also why the likelihood of the fire burning communities like Detroit or Mill City remains low.
The closure area surrounding the fire includes parts of the Willamette and Mt. Hood national forests. All lands west of Forest Road 46, as well as the previous closure areas for the 2020 Labor Day fires, are included in the Bull Complex closure.
There are 589 personnel assigned to the complex fire, with five helicopters running routine infrared imaging runs to track the fire’s spread, as well as dumping water to aid hand crews.
Containment lines have also been built on the north, south and southwest ends of the fire’s perimeter. Primary and contingency lines have been built around the northwest portion of the fire “as part of the long-term fire suppression strategy,” per the latest release from the incident management team.
The fire activity has led to smoke being dumped on parts of the Willamette Valley, and communities in East Linn County are under an air quality advisory by the Department of Environmental Quality. As of this report, Albany and Corvallis both show healthy or green air quality ratings. Detroit has an unhealthy or red air quality rating. Mill City and Lyons both have moderate ratings, indicating only mild effects on folks who are sensitive to smoke — young children, the elderly, and people with lung or heart conditions.
In communities with wildfire smoke, officials recommend keeping doors and windows closed and limiting outdoor activity. If you must go outside, wear a protective mask. The cloth kinds used for protecting against the spread of COVID-19 aren’t effective at shielding you from wildfire smoke or particle pollution. Instead, the DEQ recommends N95 or P100 masks, ones that are adjustable and form a tight seal around the nose and mouth.