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Controlled burn didn't comply

Fire crews have quelled McKenzie Bridge wildfire

MCKENZIE BRIDGE: A prescribed burn to reduce fuels in a thinned stand escaped Tuesday afternoon and burned into 120 acres on National Forest land outside of the burn unit’s perimeter. Declared a wildfire that night, the W-470 was located approximately two miles northeast of the McKenzie River Ranger Station and north of Highway 126 where USFS Roads 26-204 and 26-206 split near Frissell Trail.

At a community meeting on June 3rd, McKenzie Ranger District assistant fire manager Dirk Rogers explained that unexpected winds descended from the ridgetops around 3 p.m. Those 30 mph winds ignited two spot fires that first pushed out to about 7 acres. As that “slop over” continued, a decision was made to declare the incident a wildfire, which opened up the ability to call for more firefighting resources.

The good news, though, according to Rogers, was that the fire “burned up the sub-ridge and fell on its face about 9:30 or 10, dropping down on itself.”

In addition, although there was some rollout of burning material that rolled down some sections of the surrounding steep slopes, the fires they started burned uphill and into already-burnt zones.

A type 3 firefighting crew took over management of the blaze on Thursday which at one point grew to cover 120 acres. During the firefighting process handlines were dug around the majority of the fire area, which were bolstered by the natural barrier of Powers Creek which helped contain the blaze on its western edge. Two helicopters were also used for fire drops after the winds had died down.

Monday was the final day for the Central Oregon Type 3 Team’s response to the W-470 Fire. Management of the incident was transitioned back to the McKenzie River Ranger District Tuesday morning. At that point, it covered 80 acres and was 90% contained. Firefighting costs totaled $610,691.


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