Report of “extreme spotting” 6 miles ahead of Klondike Fire

(Originally published at 5:34 a.m. PDT October 17, 2018)

Typically by mid-October firefighting agencies in Oregon have downsized their ranks of seasonal firefighters and are preparing to enter winter mode. But the Klondike Fire west of Grants Pass, after being dormant for weeks, exploded back to life on October 14 and in a big way. Within a matter of hours it burned an additional 4,968 acres to bring the total up to 172,287 acres.

According to an article in the Mail Tribune it was transporting burning embers into the atmosphere that started fires six miles out ahead of the flaming front:

“Extreme spotting” propelled fine embers up to six miles ahead of the main fire, dropping the live ash right between firefighters’ tents and close to people’s homes.

“We even had to move our own fire camp,”  [information officer Kale] Casey said.

The map below shows spot fires detected by an infrared mapping flight.

map Klondike Fire
The red line on the map was the perimeter of the Klondike Fire at 9 p.m. October 15, 2018. The white line shows where the perimeter was before the October 14-15 additional growth. Click to enlarge.

The Incident Management Team posted an update on Tuesday October 16:

Fire personnel focused all efforts to ensure that Sunday’s wind driven spot fires did not damage any of the homes in the Oak Flats, Spud Road and Agness area. Fire managers estimate that the weekend wind event resulted in approximately 5,000 acres of new growth to the west of the primary containment lines. Level 3 evacuations remain in effect for these areas while fire crews and engines work to construct and link together new and existing containment lines.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s five structural task forces that arrived yesterday have split into day and night shifts to ensure that all homes under evacuation are protected. These resources include twenty engines and five water tenders with firefighters from thirty-three different fire agencies from across the state.

Fire behavior moderated significantly yesterday as the 30 mph winds over the weekend diminished significantly, allowing fire firefighters to attack spot fires directly. Containing the remaining spot fires east and west of the Illinois River and west of the 3577 Road is the primary objective for all fire personnel.

Warm, dry, breezy weather awakens Klondike Fire in Southwest Oregon

After being relatively quiet for weeks the fire jumped firelines Sunday requiring evacuations in Agness

(UPDATED at 5:10 a.m. PDT October 16, 2018)

map Klondike Fire
The red line on the map was the perimeter of the Klondike Fire at 9 p.m. October 15, 2018. The white line shows where the perimeter was before the October 14-15 additional growth. Click to enlarge.

The map of the Klondike Fire above is a result of mapping by a fixed wing aircraft at 9 p.m. PDT October 15. The new growth on October 14 and 15 added another 4,968 acres to bring the total up to 172,287 acres.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Tuesday (Agness, OR) predicts a high temperature around 80, relative humidity in the teens, and 5 mph east to northeast winds. The area is not under a Red Flag Warning.


Klondike Fire in southwest Oregon
A satellite photo taken October 15 showing heat (the red dots) and smoke on the Klondike Fire in southwest Oregon.

The Klondike Fire had been quiet for weeks until warm, dry, breezy weather on Sunday brought it back to life, burning thousands of acres outside the firelines and requiring evacuations in the small town of Agness 20 miles northeast of Gold Beach, Oregon. The Sheriff’s Office in concurrence with fire officials  made the determination that evacuations were appropriate for residents north of the Rogue River and in the areas of Oak Flat, Spud Road, and along the 33 road in Agness.

Incident Management Teams had released 171 fire personnel over the last seven days, to bring the total down to 316. The 167,423-acre fire had not increased in size for over a week. Approximately 250 additional resources have been requested, including aircraft, engines, and Type 1 Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHC). Northwest Incident Management Team 7 (NWIMT7) assumed command of the October 14, 2018 at 8:00 p.m.

The Oregon Governor has declared the Klondike Fire to be a “conflagration”which allows the State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local crews.

map Klondike Fire
The red line on the map was the perimeter of the Klondike Fire the last time it was mapped, on October 12, 2018. The yellow dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:54 a.m. PDT October 15, 2018. We will update this map when new data becomes available.

At 2 p.m. Monday afternoon a weather station near Agness recorded 73 degrees, 10 percent relative humidity, and 2 mph SSE winds. The maximum wind gust over the previous 24 hours was 20 mph Sunday evening.

Our very unofficial analysis of Sunday’s activity indicates that approximately 4,500 additional acres burned on the northwest side of the fire east of Agness. Firefighters have requested a Monday night infrared mapping flight to get a more accurate assessment.

Update on Southwest Oregon fires

Here is a VERY brief update on the wildfires burning in Southwest Oregon.

On the map above the red dots are the most recent, representing heat detected by a satellite at 3:31 a.m. PDT July 28, 2018.

The area around Bend and Medford is under a Red Flag Warning Saturday for low relative humidity, gusty winds, and unstable atmospheric conditions.

Red Flag Warning
Red Flag Warning, July 28, 2018.
Red Flag Warning
Red Flag Warning, July 28, 2018.