Progress made on Bruler Fire

Crews continued using advantageous weather in their attack on the week-old Bruler Fire 30 miles east of Sweet Home, estimated at 156 acres Monday morning.

The blaze, first detected Monday, July 12, burns near the jurisdiction of Forest Roads 11 (Straight Creek and Quartzville roads) and 1133 approximately nine miles south of Detroit in the Sweet Home Ranger District. The fire is located about 10 miles from Hill Timber property managed by Cascade Timber Consulting.

Milt Moran, CTC president, was initially very worried about the fire’s location, but he said Monday, July 19, that he was “feeling good” about the efforts to get it put down and that it was staying within that footprint.

“I hope we don’t get any adverse weather that will make that fire move,” he said. “They’re trying to pinch it off.”

According to forecasts at press time, weather conditions in the area currently look to continue pretty much as they have for the last week, with high temperatures in the 80s and mild wind conditions.

Air quality around Detroit and Sweet Home continues to be listed as “good,” the agency reported, and light winds from the southwest prevent smoke from this and surrounding fires to the east. Containment is listed at 10 percent.

According to a U.S. Forest Service report, firefighters removed fuels around the blaze’s established perimeter. Mop-up work continued along the fire’s south side, and sprinklers placed along its west and east sides helped suppress hot spots. Further sprinklers will be placed along its south side.

Fire activity increased Sunday on the fire’s northwest and southwest corners. A helicopter dropped water to prevent the blaze from escaping control lines. Crews controlled a small spot fire outside the perimeter.

Additional equipment, including masticators, dozers and bunchers were scheduled to arrive Monday. A total of 209 personnel are assigned to the fire, whose cause remains under investigation.

Moran said CTC and another timber company have provided bulldozers which were used last week to help create fire lines.

“We’re a cooperator,” he said. “We’re keeping in touch. It’s a long ways from our property, but we want the fire to remain in that footprint.”

Moran noted that CTC is providing advice and is prepared to help USFS officials get the equipment they need.

“We’ll find local resources if they are not able to locate (needed equipment and personnel) in their resource system,” he said. “Crews and equipment are in high demand and short supply right now, with all the fires in the Pacific Northwest.”

Tensions from this recent conflagration remain high, as this fire is located just south of the area where smaller fires last year developed into the 400,000-plus-acre Santiam Fire, one of the state’s most historic infernos, devastated the small city of Detroit last September. Some 264 homes were destroyed.

Moran said he’s relieved that this fire is being controlled.

“We’re feeling good about the way the fire team, the way the Sweet Home Ranger District is taking a look at this fire,” he said, adding that he appreciated the USFS’ initial response.

“The Sweet Home Ranger District did a really good job of doing burnouts, getting equipment in there.”

Large closures remain in effect for the Bruler Fire, and people were cited on July 18 for being in closed areas, according to Sheriff’s reports. These include large portions of U.S. Forest Service lands south of Detroit Lake, west of Highway 22 and north of Highway 20, plus the Middle Santiam Wilderness, Daly Lake, Tule Lake and the Old Cascade Crest trail system.

A Bureau of Land Management closure area is also in place for areas along Quartzville Scenic Byway and Quartzville Road, including Yellowbottom Campground, Old Miner’s Meadow Group Site and nearby dispersed camping areas.

Visit InciWeb for more information about closures at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7663/. For other updates, please consult the Willamette National Forest’s Bruler Fire Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/brulerfire2021) or the agency’s Twitter account at @WillametteNF.

– The New Era staff

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