CHEMULT, Ore. – Last night fire crews successfully ignited 360 acres of the RAC prescribed fire project on the Chemult Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest, south of State Highway 138 between mileposts 95 and 92 west of Diamond Lake Junction.
Smoke from the prescribed fire activity is expected to impact a large part of the surrounding area for the next 24 to 48 hours.
This morning there were smoke impacts observed on Highway 138 between U.S. Highway 97 and just east of the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park, near the boundary of the Fremont-Winema and Umpqua National Forests. Visibility is currently approximately a half mile in this area.
Smoke is also impacting Highway 97 south of Highway 138 past Chiloquin. Residual smoke is being observed in the Sprague River Valley and Chiloquin area.
Drivers in the area are asked to be aware of their surroundings, slow down, watch for increased fire traffic and signs in the area. Smoke may thicken more at night as it settles into low-lying areas, including along the highways.
The RAC prescribed fire originally had a goal to treat approximately 500 acres. There are no additional ignitions planned in the project area in the coming days.
This prescribed fire is the first part of the larger Boundary prescribed fire being planned in the area this fall.
The forest in this area is old growth ponderosa pine, a forest type that needs moderate fire to maintain forest health. The area of the RAC and Boundary prescribed fires are part of ponderosa pine restoration areas and are in proximity of the treated areas on the Forest that were used to help contain last summer’s Timber Crater 6 Fire.
Prescribed fire is applied by trained wildland firefighters under specific conditions, including temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and fuel moisture levels. They occur when the Oregon Department of Forestry Smoke Management Office indicates weather conditions are suitable for smoke dispersal.
Prescribed fire looks different depending on the area being treated. Area residents and visitors may notice smoke and visible fire, depending on the area. Places where prescribed fires are taking place will be well signed and may have increased fire personnel and traffic.
Firefighter and public safety are the highest priorities. The public is asked to be aware of their surroundings, use caution and watch for smoke. Those who are sensitive to smoke are encouraged to be aware of current conditions.
Fire crews monitor prescribed fires to ensure that they are staying within the project area and are meeting the objectives. There is a low probability of prescribed fires escaping.
Prescribed fires are an important tool used by wildland fire managers to reduce hazardous fuels in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and from the forest as part of forest restoration efforts.
Reducing these fuels reduces the risk of devastating wildfires, as well as assisting with fire suppression efforts during the wildland fire season by moderating fire behavior. These activities also improve wildlife habitat and are part of restoring a healthy, fire-resilient forest.
The Lakeview Interagency Fire Center provides information on prescribed fire activities based on Ranger District. For detailed information, visit www.scofmp.org/rx_fire.shtml.
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