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Wildfires in Southern Oregon Less Than 10% Contained – September 24th, 2009

44.5N 64.2W

September 24th, 2009 Category: Fires, Image of the day

Oregon Wildfires, USA - September 22nd, 2009

Oregon Wildfires, USA - September 22nd, 2009

Close-up of fires

Close-up of fires

The two huge complexes of fires blazing in southern Oregon, USA, continue to release thick plumes of smoke. Here, the wind direction has changed since yesterday, and the smoke is now blowing due northwards (click here for previous articles). Both blazes were caused by lightning from storms that passed over the forests on September 12th and 13th.

The southernmost and larger of the two wildfires, called the Boze fire, is located on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest. The fire is burning in very steep, rugged terrain in the lower French and upper Boze Creek drainages.

Firefighters estimate that 10,792 acres are being affected: 8,216 acres from the Boze fire and 2,127 acres by the nearby Rainbow Creek fire. They report that the fire is only 10% contained and classify the fire behavior as extreme. For tomorrow, they expect a reduction in fire behavior and higher relative humidities but stress that the fire will still be active.

The other blaze slightly to the north is the Tumblebug Complex, located 23 miles southeast of Oakridge, in the Willamette National Forest. Firefighters estimate the size of the affected area to be about 7000 acres, with only 5% containment. East wind gusts of up to 35 mph and droughtlike conditions, coupled with unseasonal dry fuels, caused fire behavior to be extreme. Basalt cliffs and large snags contribute to the difficulty of containing these remote fires.

In the main image, numerous other smaller fires can be seen in the wooded mountainous areas to the northeast of the two principal blazes. The most noticeable of these is the North Fork Complex, below the image center. It is comprised of several fires resulting from an August 1st lightning storm. These fires are located in or adjacent to the North Fork John Day Wilderness, 15 miles southeast of Ukiah, Oregon.

Although the complex received significant precipitation in early to mid August, slowing fire progression at first, a warming and drying trend has increased fire behavior and has produced abundant smoke in the valley. The two original fires have now burned together, now having a combined size of about 10,790 acres. Weather forecasts show a warming trend and possibility of increased fire activity.