Fire personnel from 27 states are currently working to contain the sprawling Riverside Fire in Clackamas County, officials reported Tuesday.
Those states are Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and, of course, Oregon.
Firefighters continue to hold and patrol fire lines along the west and north boundaries of Riverside, which has burned more than 138,000 acres across a 107-mile perimeter. The Riverside Fire was upgraded to 26% contained in the most recent report from incident command.
The other, smaller fires that have impacted the county, including Dowty, Unger and Wilhoit, have been largely brought under control and are now a combined 78% contained, the Clackamas Fire District reported Wednesday morning.
Crews on those fires, which are smaller but much closer in proximity to Molalla, Colton and Estacada, are working to extend and reinforce existing containment lines to 250 feet within the fire line to reduce the potential for spread.
#ClackamasWildfires Update (9/23): Dowty, Unger, Wilhoit, & Graves Creek Fires have 78% combined containment. Crews working to extend & reinforce existing containment lines to 250 ft w/in the fire imprint to ensure clean fire lines & reduce potential for spread. @ORDeptForestry pic.twitter.com/RS60Wx74ng
— Clackamas Fire (@clackamasfire) September 23, 2020
Firefighters are working with partner agencies to mitigate hazards near local communities so that residents can return home safely.
Burned areas present many hazards that need to be addressed, officials say, including felling fire-weakened trees near the fireline and extinguishing burning ash pits. Ash can hide the fact that a tree’s roots have burned to the point it could topple at any time.
“Ash pits may look cool on the surface, but be burning hot several feet down,” said Deputy Incident Commander Dave Bales. “Firefighter and public safety are the priority as we continue mop-up efforts near containment lines.”
The fire continues to smolder and creep, burning in logs, stump holes, standing dead trees, and deep layers of needles on the forest floor, producing smoke visible within the fire’s perimeter.
On Monday, the fire grew slightly toward the east, in an area with a 45% grade, which is extremely difficult terrain for a crew to work in. The safest, most efficient strategy is to simply monitor the fire where it is burning in rugged areas.
Firefighters continue to construct indirect fire lines a distance from the east side of the fire, that they can use to help catch the fire in a safer and easier-to-control location, if needed. Rain later in the forecast this week is expected to help slow the fire’s spread.
A total of 689 personnel were assigned to Riverside as of Tuesday. Air quality throughout the region was vastly improved.
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