The Blanket Creek fire was estimated at 4,739 acres Monday morning. It is 31% contained and has a fire perimeter of approximately 32 miles. That means firefighters have successfully created or improved nearly 10 miles of fire line.
The location of the fire on the landscape makes for complex suppression strategies on the overall incident. Different fuel types, different resources at risk, and different hazards in each part of the fire means each part is evaluated individually, and takes deliberate planning about how to take the most effective suppression action.
At the west end of the fire, the objective is to prevent the fire from reaching private land, hand crews, engines, fallers, and heavy equipment worked Sunday with support from helicopters. The fire burned actively in the Lick Creek drainage. While crews identify and construct potential line locations, dozers and engine crews are prepping contingency lines off the Forest Road 6215 system.
The edge of the fire between FR 6205-100 and FR 6205 now has black to the fireline that is 50 feet wide. This wider buffer provides more security along the west edge of the fire.
All the fire line that was along the Cold Springs Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trail is now being mopped up. On the south side of the fire, where the strategy was to allow the fire to back down the slope slowly and naturally, crews are tasked with holding the fire above FR 6205. Patience in this area has paid off, and crews who worked this portion of line report a nice steady low intensity underburn cleared away the ground fuels.
While the lower temperatures Sunday brought a bit of relief to fire personnel, the new weather pattern provides a different set of challenges. Sunday afternoon, an incident meteorologist kept fireline supervisors informed of the locations of thunderstorms northeast of the fire. Fire crews follow storm precautions to reduce the risk of exposure to dangerous wind conditions and lightning. Crews working in the northeast division of the fire reported hail.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect from noon until 10 pm Monday for abundant lighting on dry fuels. Although humidity is trending upward, and large dead logs (termed “1000-hour fuels” in the wildland fire profession) would take 41 days of exposure to moisture to fully re-hydrate. These larger fuels will stay dry even if thunderstorms include some rainfall.
An opportunity for an in-person update about the fire status and future strategies will be available at a public meeting in Prospect on Tuesday evening. Details about time and place will be shared as it is confirmed.
Fire at a Glance
Size: 4,739 acres; 31% Contained
Location: 9 miles NE of Prospect, OR
Cause: Lightning, Natural
3 Type 1 Hotshot Crews
17 Type 2 Crews
16 Water tenders
8 Falling Modules
Aircraft (shared with Spruce Lake):
4 Type 1 heavy helicopters
2 Type 2 medium helicopters
2 Type 3 light helicopters