Steeple fire poses problems for Buckhead Complex crews
OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- Fire crews are continuing their work in the steep terrain of the Willamette National Forest Wednesday as they battle the Buckhead Complex, a series of lightning generated fires that have cropped up near Oakridge over the last two weeks.
Officials working the complex said that firefighters made excellent progress on containing most of the fires. They reported that crews were able to extinguish hotspots inside of the fire perimeters on the two biggest fires, the Buckhead and Evangeline fires. Those fires are currently listed at 60% and 65% contained, respectively.
The Steeple Fire was added to the complex Saturday after an early morning thunderstorm hit the Steeple Rock area about 18 miles south of Oakridge. The fire is burning in steep and rocky terrain that poses hazards to crews working the area. Another potential threat to firefighter is the large amount of snags (or big, dead trees) in the area that can fall or roll downhill. Burning snags have caused problems at both the Buckhead and Evangeline fires when they fell, rolled downhill and ignited fires outside of containment lines.
With the help of helicopters, Firefighters spent Tuesday working to make an indirect line around the Steeple fire. Officials said that their goal for Wednesday was to actually work on establishing containment lines around the eight burning acres. It currently does not have a containment percentage listed.
Firefighters used infrared sensors on Tuesday to detect and put out hot spots inside the containment lines of the Bobby fire. All of the hot spots need to be fully extinguished so that fires don't reignite after crews leave. Fire crews have the Bobby fire listed as 75% contained.
Even though the Bobby fire is burning in the wilderness near Waldo Lake, forestry officials said that many of the campgrounds and recreational areas in the Willamette Nat'l. Forest are still up and running. They encourage people to check the forest's website for current closures before heading out to enjoy the woods.