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Fire at Green Peter: Multiple agencies rally to contain blaze in two days


September 2, 2020

Photo courtesy of Sarah Cooley

A wildfire burns on the south shore of Green Peter Lake Saturday night. The fire was expected to be fully contained Monday and officials said they would be working to make sure it got no further.

Of The New Era

A fire that broke out Saturday afternoon on a roadless peninsula at the eastern end of Green Peter Lake had stopped spreading Monday, Aug. 31, and will likely be contained at 14 acres.

Oregon Department of Forestry Spokesperson Jim Gerbach said humid conditions helped slow the spread on Monday, giving firefighters time to cut a perimeter line around the entire area of fire.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. It is burning in thickly forested, steep terrain on federal land managed by the Bureau of Land Management's Northwest Oregon District, Cascades Field Office.

Chad Calderwood, ODF forest protection supervisor in Sweet Home, said the fire is "very difficult due to very steep slopes and thick vegetation in old-growth timber."

On Saturday, private boaters, county Sheriff's marine deputies and county parks personnel helped ferry firefighters and equipment across the lake to the fire, as the area impacted doesn't have roads.

Initial reports said the fire was 15 acres in size, Gersbach said, but the fire has since been fully mapped and is actually a bit smaller. The Oregon Department of Forestry is leading the response.

Calderwood said crews worked Sunday on handline contruction and hoselays over 40 percent of the fire.

Gersbach said a private helicopter is helping with the response.

"They are continuing to dip water from Green Peter Lake, so they're asking people to continue avoiding the water near the peninsula because of that activity," he said.

Jennifer O'Leary, U.S. Forest Service and BLM coordinator for Northwest Oregon, said, "We want to extend huge thanks for the quick and dedicated response from everyone on the fire." Federal hand crews from the Potomac Jobs Corps in Virginia and the McKenzie River Ranger District are also working the fire, she added, along with BLM resource advisors.

Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Forestry

SMOKE RISES from a peninsula on the north shore of Green Peter Lake Sunday as a helicopter flies overhead.

Gersbach asks that members of the public stay away from the Quartzville arm of the lake, and also asks that visitors to the reservoir avoid using the Whitcomb Creek County Park, as the firefighters are using that area as their staging area. Boaters are asked to use the Thistle Creek boat ramp instead.

"You can enjoy the reservoir; it's just this one peninsula in this roadless area," he said.

Calderwood said Monday that trees that have been burning since the fire had started to weaken and fall, "causing additional hazards."

Gersbach said on Monday that he expects fire crews to finish containment quickly, and they'd soon move onto "mopping up."

"Just getting in there, cooling everything down, and making sure there's no possible sources of ignition."

Firefighters on the ground are "feeling good about the fire today," he added.


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