Hand Lake fire borders on wilderness
MCKENZIE BRIDGE: A small fire near Hand Lake grew to nine acres by Sunday afternoon and firefighters have kept it at that size ever since. First spotted by the Coffin Mountain Lookout, its location was reported to the Willamette National Forest’s dispatch by Sand Mountain Lookout Blake Driver; “We had a storm come through last Sunday, August 10th, and we saw strikes hit right there in the Hand Lake area. It was just a matter of time and hot and dry weather before it came back to life,” said Driver.
On Tuesday morning, the fire was straddling the Mt. Washington Wilderness boundary; half of the fire was inside, the other half outside the Wilderness boundary. It was 30% contained and has been staffed by 3 twenty-person crews, two helicopters and two fallers.
“We have staffed this fire and are fully suppressing it,” according to McKenzie River District Ranger Terry Baker, “sometimes we may choose other management options, but for this fire, on this day, with the hot and dry weather expected mid-week, we’re going to work to put this one to rest. I am so in awe of our firefighters. For weeks now they have been systematically finding and putting out dozens and dozens of fires. No injuries, just good, solid work. If you see one of them, think about thanking them, we’ve had a great summer up here in the McKenzie River valley, in large part due to their work.”
Visitors are asked to avoid using the Hand Lake trails #4344 and #3513 as firefighting helicopters are in use and there are snags burning along the trails.
To date this season, the Willamette has had 139 smoke reports and 97 found fires. 65 of those fires have been declared out. Nearly all of the fires have been ignited by lightning. More storms are predicted for this Thursday. Forest visitors are reminded that fire prevention and reporting is critically important.
risesing from Hand Lake Fire, Mt Washington Wilderness
Image above: Light smoke rising from Hand Lake Fire, Mt Washington Wilderness
McKenzie River Reflections