Saturday, August 29, 2015

Grizzly Bear Complex Update 8/29/15 8:00 a.m.

A Red Flag Warning issued for high winds today

     Elgin, Ore. – A strong cold front is moving through the area today which is expected to bring high winds. The wind direction in the morning will be from the south and will shift, pushing to the east in the afternoon.  Sustained winds along ridgetops are forecasted to be 20 to 25 mph, with gusts to 30 to 35 mph.  Temperatures could drop by 10 to 15 degrees and the relative humidity may be as high as 50% by this afternoon. A brief period of precipitation may drop only .01 to .02” of rain today.  Tomorrow, up to 1/4” of rain may occur over the fire.

Firefighters have been briefed this morning to expect changing conditions and to remain situationally aware of high winds and active fire behavior in their immediate area.  Falling snags and debris combined with shifting winds will present challenges for crews fighting this fire.  The rate of fire spread could be up to one mph in the grass/timber areas and ¼ mph in the timber areas.

Yesterday, the predicted high winds did not occur.  The weather was calmer than expected and the containment lines held.  The fire is mostly burning within the Wenhaha-Tucannon Wilderness of the Umatilla National Forest and private lands protected by the Oregon Dept. of Forestry and Washington Dept. of Natural Resources.

Structure protection in Slick Ear and Little Turkey has been completed.  Firefighters have completed most of the protection tasks for structures and chair lifts at Ski Bluewood, and the cell phone tower nearby.

The southeast flank of the fire is in patrol status, as all spot fires have been controlled.  Most of the fine fuels near containment lines have been blackened around the community of Troy.  Other contingency fire lines have been identified (and in some cases, improved) if the primary fire lines are breached.

The Forest Road 4039 containment line needs another 1.5 to 2 miles of preparation to support a possible burnout operation to prevent the fire from moving southeast.  The northeast perimeter of the fire remains a challenge due to inaccessibility of the area and the lack of options for safely constructing containment lines.

No changes in the current Evacuation Levels are planned until the cold front passes the area and the winds diminish.  Fire officials will consider reducing the evacuation levels if containment lines successfully hold and the fire behavior subsides.

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