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Watson Creek Fire burns more than 50,000 Acres

(Courtesy: SCOFMP/USFS Fremont-Winema)

UPDATE 9/7 10:00 AM

Size: 58,900 acres / 95% Contained

South Central Oregon Interagency Fire Incident Management Team 3 expects to have fulfilled its objectives early next week and restore management of the Watson Creek Fire to the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Paisley Ranger District.

Roads and infrastructure are still being assessed. A bridge near Sycan Dip on Forest Road 28 will require more extensive repairs and could be closed for eight weeks.

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UPDATE 9/4 8:00 AM

Courtesy South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership.

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UPDATE 9/3 10:30 AM

Total acreage: 58,761 / Containment 95%

School begins in Paisley on Wednesday, and many new firefighters will be driving through town. Please drive with extra caution, watching for walking children and additional fire traffic.

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UPDATE 9/1 1:30 PM

Evacuation levels in all areas have been lifted except for the Lakeview Estates neighborhood which has been reduced to a Level 1 "Be Ready".

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UPDATE 8/31 10:00 AM

Total acreage: 58,092 / Containment 80%

The Fremont-Winema Forest emergency closure order for the Watson Creek Fire now allows access to some popular recreation sites in time for the Labor Day weekend.

The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness is open, as are Corral Creek, Clear Springs and Happy Camp Campgrounds, and the recreation sites at Fremont Point. The public is encouraged to check road closures online or by calling the fire information number as access to the sites may require a different route than planned.

The Lakeview Estates neighborhood remains under a Level 2 evacuation notice. Areas previously at a Level 2 evacuation notice have been lowered to a Level 1.

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UPDATE 8/30 10:30 AM

Total acreage: 58,018 / Containment: 75%

Evacuations:

The Lakeview Estates neighborhood is at a Level 2 evacuation level. Areas previously at a Level 2 evacuation have been lowered to a Level 1.

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UPDATE 8/29 10:15 AM

Total acreage: 57,371 / Containment: 65%

A spot fire near Buckaroo Springs and Forest Service Road 3510 was caught in the Watson Creek Fire area on Tuesday. Crews are working hard, looking for any areas of heat within 100 ft of the perimeter. Yesterday, all divisions reported progress along containment lines.

Today the public is invited to visit the heli-base at the Paisley airport from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Evacuations:

As of 6:00 a.m. today, the Lakeview Estates neighborhood Level 3 evacuation has been lowered to a Level 2.

The areas previously at a Level 2 evacuation have been lowered to a Level 1.

The evacuation notice has been lifted for residents east of Highway 31.

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UPDATE 8/28 12:00 PM

Total acreage: 56,695 / Containment: 65%

Today the public is invited to tour the fire camp in Paisley any time between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.

On Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. there will be tours of the Heli-base at the Paisley airport.

Evacuations:

The Lakeview Estates neighborhood Level 3 evacuation is still in effect.

The areas previously at a Level 2 evacuation have been lowered to a Level 1.

The evacuation notice has been lifted for residents east of Highway 31.

Closure Order Number 06-02-03-18-02-02 for the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains in effect.

Hunters and other recreationists traveling in areas with high fire danger or closures from recent or ongoing wildfire are asked to use extreme caution and follow all fire restrictions while in the forest.

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UPDATE 8/27 6:00 PM

The Level 1 evacuation that has been in place for residents east of Highway 31 has been lifted.

The Level 2 evacuations for two areas listed below have both been reduced to Level 1: Be Ready. The two areas are for:

• Residents west of Highway 31 from Beachler’s Corner (Mile Post 105) north on Highway 31 to Forest Road 29, also known as Government Harvey Pass Road. This includes the town of Paisley west of Highway 31; and

• Residents south of Forest Road 3510 from Forest Road 33 to the west side of Forest Road 3509 and the east side of Forest Road 28. Properties on both sides of Forest Road 3428 from Dairy Point Campground to Forest Road 34. Both sides of Forest Road 34 north of Forest Road 3428 to the junction of Forest Roads 33 and 28.

The Level 3 evacuation for the Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest remains in place.

All evacuation levels will be evaluated again on Tuesday afternoon, August 28th.

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UPDATE 8/27 9:50 AM

Total acreage: 56,185 / Containment: 50%

Community Meeting: Paisley Community Center 7:00 p.m. today, August 27, 2018.


The Watson Creek Fire was subdued overnight, according to night operations chief Vince Grace. However, light winds from the southwest this morning are expected to increase in velocity and vary in direction throughout the day.

A drone flown by Lakeview Crew 7 from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) detected a two-acre spot fire near where Forest Roads 28 and 33 join. The spot fire was contained and a precautionary Level 2 evacuation order was issued for the area south and southwest of the Watson Creek Fire.

• Level 3 (GO): Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest is still in effect. Lake County Sheriff’s Office evacuated area residents August 19.

• Level 2 (Be Set):

-Residents west of Highway 31 from Beachler’s Corner (Mile Post 105) north on Highway 31 to Forest Road 29, also known as Government Harvey Pass Road. This includes the town of Paisley west of Highway 31.

-Residents south of Forest Road 3510 from Forest Road 33 to the west side of Forest Road 3509 and the east side of Forest Road 28. Properties on both sides of Forest Road 3428 from Dairy Point Campground to Forest Road 34. Both sides of Forest Road 34 north of Forest Road 3428 to the junction of Forest Roads 33 and 28.

• Level 1 (Be Ready): Residents east of Highway 31.

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UPDATE 8/25: 9:30 AM

The Watson Creek Fire burning six miles southwest of Paisley, Oregon is now at 50,144 acres and is 15% contained.

Doug McKay, Silver Lake and Paisley District Ranger, said, “Thursday’s defensive holding action during the wind event allowed the team to return to the offensive on Friday, and they are making safe and significant strides toward stopping the fire.” Containment of the fire increased to 15%.

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UPDATE 8/24 12:00 PM

Total acreage: 46,525 / Containment: 10%

The Watson Creek Fire is holding at approximately 5.5 to 6 air miles from the town of Paisley.

Current Evacuations:

Level 3 (GO) Evacuation: Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest is still in effect.

Level 2 (Be Set) Evacuation: Residents west of Highway 31 from Beachler’s Corner (Mile Post 105) north on Highway 31 to the Forest Road 29, also known as Government Harvey Pass Road. This includes the town of Paisley west of Highway 31.

Level 1 (Be Ready) Evacuation: Residents east of Highway 31

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UPDATE 8/23 9:30 PM

The fire front is still 5.5 to 6 air miles from the town of Paisley. The fire is holding on the northeast side and has not crossed the 3315 Road. However, today the fire did cross the line set to activate a Level 2 Evacuation.. On the east and southeast corner, the fire is still west of the 33 Road. There has been spotting on the north side of the fire and crews are actively working to contain those areas. The south side of the fire today has been relatively quiet.

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UPDATE 8/23 4:00 PM

Lake County Sheriff's Office is implementing a Level 2 evacuation notice west of Hwy 31 from Beachler's Corner (Mile Post 105) north on Highway 31 to the 29 Road, also known as Government Harvey Pass Road. This includes the town of Paisley west of Highway 31. East of Highway 31 is now in a Level 1 evacuation.

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UPDATE 8/23 10:00 AM

Watson Creek Fire total acreage is now at 40,272 acres, with 10% containment.

"Fire behavior is expected to be very active by late morning," said the Northwest Incident Management Team 6.

All current evacuations are still in effect today.

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UPDATE 8/22 12:00 PM

Today's total acreage is 35,287 acres with 10% contained.

Community Meeting: Aug. 22nd at 7 p.m. at the Paisley Community Center.

All current evacuation levels are still in effect:

-The Level 3 (GO) evacuation for the Lakeview Estates neighborhood just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

-A Level 1 (Be Ready) evacuation area is in place for residents west of Oregon State Highway 31 between mileposts 79 and 105.

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UPDATE 8/21 12:00 PM

The Watson Creek Fire is currently at 32,104 acres, with 5% containment, in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Community Meeting: Aug. 22nd at 7 p.m. at the Paisley Community Center.

All existing evacuations are still in place. The emergency closure area for Fremont-Winema National Forest was expanded last night to include the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness Area. The expansion is to the southeast, south and southwest of the previous closure.

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UPDATE 8/20 12:45 PM

The Watson Creek Fire has now grown to 25,778 acres, with 0% contained, as of this morning, according to data collected by an infrared flight over the fire.

Level 3 Evacuations for Lakeview Estates, located just north of Campbell and Deadhorse Lakes in the Fremont-Winema National Forest were issued on Aug. 19th and are still currently in effect.

Fire spread is in the direction of McComb Butte near Forest Road 33.

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UPDATE 8/17 4:30 PM -- As of this afternoon, the Watson Creek Fire has grown to approximately 8,500 acres. According to the Public Information Officer of the fire, it is a zero percent containment.

Crews are having difficulty accessing the fire due to challenging terrain. Firefighter safety remains an issue due to numerous hazard trees and standing snags. Low visibility is also a concern for planes.

Luckily, no thunderstorms are predicted in the area. However, northwest winds could affect the spread of the fire.

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UPDATE 8/16 11:45 PM -- The Watson Creek Fire grew to over 1,000 acres today due to difficult terrain and heavy mixed vegetation of standing and down lodge pole pine from beetle kill.

Firefighters progress is slow due to the amount of dead and down logs as well as standing snags. The numerous hazards make it tough to effectively and safely fight fire. The dry burnable fuel on the ground in front of the fire is creating issues with access.

Gusty afternoon winds on Thursday contributed to the fire spotting up to a half mile away. The use of additional aircraft for support has been limited by visibility in the area.

According to South Central Oregon fire Management Partnership, forecasts for Friday predict north winds which would push the main fire to the southeast.

Resources assigned to the fire include a Single Engine Air Tanker, lead plane, 2 fixed wing air attack air tankers, 20-person crew, 2 helicopters, 5 engines, 3 water tenders, 4 dozers, and approximately 100 personnel.

Cooperators include Oregon State Police, rural fire districts and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

Affected area residents under a Level 1 (be ready) evacuation notice have been notified by the Sheriff’s Department.

A Type II Incident Management Team has been ordered to assume command.

Due to the fire situation road closures and evacuations are being put in place.

Access to the east side of the Fremont-Winema National Forest using Forest Roads 2901, 29, 3315 and 33 is unavailable due to road closures and fire activity.

The Gearhart Mountain Wilderness Area is still open, but Forest Road 34 north of Corral Creek Campground is closed extending to Forest Road 28 to the junction with Forest Road 33.

On the western edge of the fire area, Forest Road 30, commonly known as Silver Creek Marsh Road is closed approximately 3 miles from the Forest boundary and Road 3411, commonly known as Thomas Road is closed at the Forest boundary.

Numerous recreation sites in the area are also closed as a result of the fire activity.

Recreation site closures:

• Bald Butte Lookout

• Bear Creek Trailhead

• Campbell Lake Campground

• Chewaucan Crossing Campground

• Currier Guard Station

• Currier Horse Camp

• Currier Trailhead

• Dead Horse Lake Campground and Trailhead

• Fremont National Recreation Trail #160 between Chewaucan Crossing Campground and Dead Indian Rim

• Fremont Point Cabin

• Fremont Point Trailhead

• Hanan/Coffeepot Trailhead

• Hanan/Sycan Campground and Trailhead

• Harris Trailhead

• Jones Crossing Campground

• Lee Thomas Campground and Trailhead

• Marster Spring Campground

• North Fork Sprague Trailhead

• Pikes Crossing Campground

• Rock Creek Campground

• Sandhill Crossing Campground

• Slide Lake Trailhead

• Winter Rim Trailhead

• Withers Lake Day Use Area

• Withers Lake Trailhead

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

ORIGINAL: The Watson Creek Fire was confirmed yesterday afternoon, burning approximately 15 miles west of Paisley. The fire is at the Fremont-Winema National Forest Paisley Ranger District, according to South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership and Lakeview Interagency Fire Center.

Firefighters are working in difficult terrain with limited access. The fire is currently actively burning to the northeast, and grew to 350 acres today, partly due to poor visibility.

The following road closures have been put in place:

-Forest Service 28 RD – South from junction of FS road 30 to FS road 34, at the junction with FS road 29, and at the junction with FS road 3315.

-Forest Service 29 RD (aka Government Harvey) – At Oregon State Hwy 31, west to FS road 28, and southwest of FS road 3360.

-Forest Service 30 Rd (aka Marsh Road) – east from FS road 3239 to FS road 28, and at the junction with FS road 3372.

-Forest Service 34 RD – at Corral Creek Campground, east to the FS road 28, at the junction with FS road 28, at the junction with FS road 3372.

-Forest Service RD 3411 (aka Lee Thomas Road) – east from the forest boundary to FS road 28.

The following recreational locations have been closed as well:

Currier Guard Station, Currier Trailhead, Bald Butte Lookout, Campbell Lake Campground, Dead Horse Lake Campground and Trailhead, Hanan/Sycan Campground and Trailhead, Lee Thomas Campground and Trailhead, North Fork Sprague Trailhead, Pikes Crossing Campground, Rock Creek Campground, Sandhill Crossing Campground, and Winter Rim Trailhead

The cause of the fire is under investigation at this time, according to SCOFMP & LIFC. More on this fire as information becomes available.

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