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.

Technology increasingly being used by firefighters in Oregon

camera detect wildfire Oregon
Cameras are used to detect wildland fires in a detection center in Oregon.

(Originally published at 9:51 p.m. PDT October 13, 2018)

Wildland firefighters in Oregon and other locations are increasingly using technology to streamline dispatching, map fires, communicate, detect fires, and enhance situational awareness. An article at the Mail Tribune covers advances in fire detection, drones, mapping, and satellite imagery. Below are two excerpts.

…It’s called the detection center, and ODF employees who man its viewing stations are constantly on the lookout for just-sparked wildfires.

“Typically, what we’re looking for are slight movements,” [Chris] James says while gesturing at a bank of monitors that displays multiple views of the region’s hazy, forested landscape.

Each monitor contains four pictures that rotate through on the screens and are spaced over time, giving ODF workers the ability to see fires.

“We’re looking at those pictures for any sign that we don’t recognize, that we haven’t seen before, and that keys us up on smoke,” says James, a detection center supervisor.

The Bureau of Land Management utilized drone technology for a variety of purposes, including infrared heat detection, mapping, and scouting certain areas of terrain for possible fire lines. Unrelated to surveillance — but no less interesting — the agency utilized some of the unmanned aircraft to haul in supplies. The drones also were used for burnout purposes, dropping ping pong balls … which triggered a chemical reaction that ignited the plastic spheres.

We checked with Gil Dustin who leads the Bureau of Land Management Unmanned Aircraft Systems program. He said the federal land management agencies have not used drones to haul supplies. The aircraft they have been flying can only carry a few pounds at most. One day they may be resupplying firefighters with drinking water, food, fire hose, pumps, and chain saw fuel, but we are not there yet.

Mr. Dustin said years down the road helibases are going to look very different compared to what we are seeing today.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Dozer rollover with injury, Sugar Pine Fire in Oregon

Rapid Lesson Sharing report

Dozer rollover
The dozer after rolling end over end down a steep 175-foot slope.

The description of a dozer rollover in a Rapid Lesson Sharing report indicates that the operator is lucky to be alive after the dozer tumbled end over end for 175 feet down a steep slope. In spite of the serious injuries, several things contributed to getting the patient to a hospital in one hour and 40 minutes in the middle of the night, including having a paramedic and a stokes litter nearby.

The accident occurred on the Sugar Pine Fire 11 air miles northwest of Prospect, Oregon.

There have been too many incidents involving dozers this summer. They are tagged “dozer” here on Wildfire today.

Below is the narrative from the RLS report. The full document with successes and lessons can be downloaded HERE.


On July 30, 2018 at 1:04 a.m., approximately one mile northwest of DP 25, a dozer slipped off the edge of a logging road and tumbled down end-over-end, 175 feet to the bottom of a ravine.

A Paramedic, fireline overhead, and a hand crew quickly responded to the accident site.

Within approximately five minutes, the Paramedic and a crew member were on scene conducting patient evaluation and providing medical treatment. The patient had a broken hip, ribs, and head lacerations.

The fire overhead directed crew members to cut a switchback trail to the bottom of the hill where the Paramedic was treating the patient. The patient was assessed/stabilized/packaged and transported in a Stokes basket to the top of the hill. Crews then loaded him into a vehicle for transport to a waiting ambulance.

The Deputy IC, Unit Medical Leader located in the communications tent had directed the ambulance to meet the truck with the patient on a nearby paved road. When the truck arrived, the patient was quickly transferred to the back of the ambulance then transported to the Medford Medical Center.

After the patient was evaluated, he was transported via Life Flight and admitted to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland, Oregon.

(end of excerpt from report)


dozer rollover
3-D map of the general area where the dozer rolled down the slope.

Water tender rollover on the South Umpqua Complex

It occurred July 26, 2018

In searching for a report about the rollover of a dozer transport, I ran across this very brief “24-hour preliminary report” about a water tender rollover. It occurred July 26, 2018 on the South Umpqua Complex on the “Umpqua National Forest and Medford BLM”. There is no indication that a Rapid Lesson Sharing report is being prepared.

Below is the text from the report, dated July 27, 2018:


Location: South Umpqua Complex, Umpqua National Forest and Medford BLM
Date of Occurrence: July 26, 2018
Time of Occurrence: Approximately 2400
Activity: Wildland Fire Suppression
Number of Injuries: 0
Number of Fatalities: 0
Property Damage: damage to non-federal contract operated water tender
Narrative: A water tender assigned to the South Umpqua Complex Fire was traveling on an unpaved road and rolled backwards off the road resulting in the vehicle rolling on its side. The vehicle came to a rest on the driver’s side. There was only one crew member, that individual was transported back to base camp. There were no injuries.

Firefighter on Terwilliger Fire critically injured in hit-and-run incident

The fire is burning between Eugene and Bend in Oregon. 

Above: A K-MAX helicopter drops water on the Terwilliger Fire in Oregon, September 1, 2018. InciWeb photo.

A firefighter sustained critical injuries Monday September 3 in a hit-and-run accident while assigned to the Terwilliger Fire in Oregon. The incident occurred on Highway 126 near the Tokatee Golf Course.

Below is an excerpt from an article at KEZI:

…Police said John S. Houdeshell, 71, of Yreka, Calif., was crossing the highway when he was struck by a silver or metallic gray Chevy Astro Van or similar looking vehicle traveling westbound.

Officers say Houdeshell sustained critical injuries and was transported by air ambulance to Sacred Heart Medical Center at River Bend in Springfield.

Fire officials said he was a water tender driver who was off duty at the time…

The Terwilliger Fire has burned about 9,500 acres between Eugene and Bend in Oregon.

Below is an updated on September 5, 2018 from the Incident Management Team.

Yesterday’s [September 4] weather conditions optimized firing operations and crews were able to strengthen containment lines on the northwest and southwest flanks. To the northwest, crews completed containment line from Forest Service Road (FS) 1986 down to FS19, while helicopters provided bucket support to wet the exterior of the fire perimeter reducing spotting potential.

On the northeast side, the fire advanced toward the FS1993 as crews removed flammable materials and set up hose line. To the south, some group tree torching occurred and crews worked to close firelines from FS140 to FS100. A structure assessment plan has been completed for the Highway 126 corridor and Kings Road.

landslide Terwilliger Fire Oregon
Landslide on USFS Road 19 at the Terwilliger Fire in Oregon. Undated InciWeb Photo.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kelly.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.