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Holiday Farm Fire containment grows to 96%

Here is the latest.

Posted: Sep 27, 2020 9:13 AM
Updated: Oct 12, 2020 11:03 PM

BLUE RIVER, Ore. – Firefighters continue to make steady progress on the Holiday Farm Fire.

Numbers

DONATIONS

United Way of Lane County is one of many organizations raising money for wildfire relief efforts in our area.

If you would like to make a financial donation, click here to donate or mail checks with "Wildfires" in the memo line to the following address:

United Way of Lane County
3171 Gateway Loop
Springfield, OR 97477

The money is being allocated to local organizations that are working to help evacuees.

On Monday, fire officials said containment remains 96%. The forecast for the week to come is mostly drizzly through Tuesday when another ridge of high pressure builds off the coast bringing a brief period of drying before additional precipitation is expected Friday and Saturday.

Fire officials said they now estimate the fire to be 173,393 acres, up from a previous estimate of 173,094 acres. Officials said the fire is the equivalent of nearly 130,000 football fields in size.

Steep terrain and fire line hazards were to blame for the less precise estimate. 

Firefighting & repair efforts

Crews remain focused on fighting the fire as well as on suppression repair, which mitigates the impacts of firefighting activities.

The US Forest Service Burn Area Emergency Response team and the Bureau of Land Management Emergency Stabilization and Restoration group has been assessing the fire area. This helps plan for activities to help stabilize soils and begin rehabilitation efforts.

On Tuesday, the Incident Management Team will demobilize and local agencies will take on the remaining work.

A total of 140 people are currently assigned to the fire. Officials said they are following coronavirus-related precautions, and there have been no cases of COVID-19 tied to the Holiday Farm Fire.

Six minor injuries have occurred on the fire since it started Sept. 7. One person was injured by a fallen tree limb while working to clear roads in the fire area. The man was taken to the hospital for evaluation and treatment but his injuries were not life-threatening.

Officials remind the public that smoke seen deep inside the fire area does not pose a threat to containment lines and should not be reported.

Closures

Many closures remain in place, despite cooler weather on the way. 

Highway 126 is back open, but Oregon Department of Transportation officials ask drivers to avoid the highway unless they are residents, first responders, or recovery personnel. he speed limit is 45 mph between mileposts 28 and 38. Watch for fire equipment and personnel and do not park on the shoulder. Expect lengthy delays.

Many hazards remain in the fire area, including weakened trees, stump holes, ash pits and more. Indeed, hazards are expected to remain even after firefighting efforts are over.

Anyone who would like to go boating or hunting should be aware that closures remain in place due to ongoing hazards.

Residents & evacuees

All evacuation notices have been canceled, but many remain displaced due to the fire. A total of 431 residences were destroyed and 24 commercial structures were as well.

So far, one person has been confirmed dead in the fire area. More than 200 people reported missing have been found.

United Way of Lane County is one of many organizations raising money for wildfire relief efforts in our area. If you would like to make a financial donation, click here to donate.

Below are resources for those who have been affected by the fire:

  • Emotional Support Line: 1-800-923-HELP (4357)
  • Disaster Stress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. This line is available in 100 languages, 24 hours a day 7 days a week
  • In-person crisis support with Lane County Behavioral Health: The Graduate Hotel, 66 E. 6th Ave. Eugene, Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 5 p.m.

Environmental impacts

While some damaged trees were removed, ODOT says a second and possibly third round of tree removal will take place as trees die due to fire damage. Trees may need to be removed over the next weeks and months.

At this time, there are no major concerns for large landslides, but fire, wind and rain has taken a toll on soil in the area. Most of the damage is in the Quartz Creek and Gates Creek watersheds and the east side of the fire. Small slides are expected throughout the winter.

Watch

Timeline

Over the past weekend, firefighters saw more active fire behavior on some parts of the fire. This increase is due to the warm and dry weather conditions in the region. Firefighters were prepared for this activity and have kept the fire within containment lines.

On Sunday, Sept. 27, high temperatures and wind stirred up fire activity around Doe Creek, but it did not threaten containment lines.

Heading into the current string of warm weather, fire managers were cautiously optimistic that work accomplished so far would result in similar results from the last time these conditions tested control lines just four days prior. That east wind event fanned flames and stirred up embers deep inside the fire’s interior, but did not create any problems outside established containment lines.

Despite the recent rain, fire season is still in effect, and outdoor debris burning is prohibited, as well as other spark-emitting activities.

Up to seven helicopters have been available to help fight the fire, cooling the edges to allow crews to construct direct line along the perimeter. The Leaburg Dam has been powered and refilled and is now available as a strategic dip site for heavy helicopters.

Out-of-state resources have replaced Lane County fire crews. This allowed crews to return to their homes. They will remain heavily involved in the effort and can be called back in if there is a need.

Officials emphasized that the name refers to a business in the area that provided a useful landmark for incoming fire crews. The business had nothing to do with the cause of the fire.

In earlier days, fire officials discussed containment levels.

"Our fire officers have to be confident that if fire pushes on that line it's not going to go over it," said information officer Damon Simmons. "Barring a wind event or something, that line is going to hold if it is tested by fire. That's when they are going to declare it contained."

Earlier burnout operations were successful in the southwestern corner of the fire to establish a solid control line.

"As you know, fires on the landscape are a natural process. Low-intensity fires are good for the landscape. These high intensity really harsh burns that we get with the high winds are really hard on the landscape and kill a lot of trees," said Simmons.

The White House has approved an emergency declaration for the state. The declaration will provide assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Oregon and includes temporary housing for displaced evacuees. There will also be an opportunity for additional fire resources.

Posted by Holiday Farm Fire on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 44388

Reported Deaths: 675
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