CHILOQUIN, Ore. – This week the Chiloquin area was affected by the Chiloquin Ridge Fire and the S’Ocholis Fire. Firefighters have made great progress on both fires.
The Chiloquin Ridge Fire is expected to reach full containment by the end of today. Firefighters are already engaging in mop-up activities on the S’Ocholis Fire and making progress towards containment.
On both fires, firefighters were able to take advantage of high humidity recoveries and cooler evening temperatures.
Freezing temperatures have presented a challenge as fire crews arriving in the mornings to continue mop up are finding frozen hoses. Even in building firelines, firefighters are finding the ground is still frozen just below the surface.
The crews will continue mop up around containment lines to strengthen the perimeters on both fires. Smoke will continue to be visible in the coming days due to pockets of fuel burning within the firelines.
Fire managers are seeing current fuel conditions closer to what they were in the fall, during September and October and Two Four Two Fire. The expected spring green-up hasn’t happened yet.
“Given the current weather conditions and unusually dry fuels, we are extremely fortunate that both fires were kept small and are approaching containment,” said Chiloquin Ranger District Assistant Fire Management Officer Evan Wright. “The local, state and federal resources did a great job working together, responding quickly and ensuring public safety.”
Relationships and partnerships between agencies, fire departments and the community have strengthened over the past several years. Those relationships are providing improved and efficient emergency response.
During the S’Ocholis Fire, the response included rapid and coordinated evacuations and road closures with Klamath County which aided wildland firefighting efforts.
“The responsiveness and cooperation between firefighting, law enforcement and county agencies was the key to successfully responding to both the Chiloquin Ridge and S’Ocholis Fires,” said Wright. “People are committed to making the partnerships work and better serving the community. Even private businesses and citizens offered services, support and cooperation during these incidents.”
Klamath County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) and the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) conducted a dual investigation on the cause of the Chiloquin Ridge Fire. It was determined that a private landowner was burning piles in conjunction with wildland fuels reduction. The landowner received a citation Monday from the KCSO for reckless burning.
Landowners are required to work with their local fire departments for burn permits to ensure all regulations are being met.
“With a little wind, fire can spread from a pile to the surrounding land and cause extensive damage. In addition, these recent March fires, including the Chiloquin Ridge Fire, have cost thousands of dollars to extinguish,” said ODF Protection Unit Forester Randall Baley.
Getting approvals from local fire departments before burning is important, as well as following up before burning to make sure conditions still allow for it, to avoid fines and firefighting charges.
“It is very important that you burn at the right time and make sure your burn piles are completely extinguished during that right time,” Baley said. “As a landowner, you most likely will be held liable for the entire cost of extinguishing the fire.”
This week has seen unseasonably warm temperatures, dry conditions and periods of wind, making it easy for fires to carry. These conditions will continue through the weekend. While temperatures are expected to become cooler and more seasonable next week, there is little to no precipitation in the extended forecast. Cold fronts and temperature changes can also trigger strong winds.
“Right now, the spring weather outlook doesn’t look too good for many lengthy burning opportunities as numerous dry and windy cold front passages are forecasted for the first couple weeks of April,” Baley said.
Area landowners are asked to make sure they are in compliance with local burning regulations and fire departments.
Conditions are unseasonably warm and dry in Klamath and Lake counties this spring. The area can also see strong and erratic spring winds, especially during weather and temperature changes. The public is asked to use caution with anything that can ignite a fire. Please call 911 to report suspected wildfires.