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Evacuations in effect for Umpqua North fires as crews work by land, by air - even boat

Douglas Forest Protective Association crews paddle to the fire lines August 22, 2017. (InciWeb)

GLIDE, Ore. - Firefighters used rafts to reach the fire lines on the Fall Creek Fire this week, one of the more than half dozen forest fires in the Umpqua North Complex.

Combined, the fires have burned near 12,000 acres.

Containment is estimated at 1 percent.

EVACUATIONS

Level 3 "GO!" evacuation notices remain in effect for Dry Creek and the Illahee areas.

A Level 2 "Get Set" notice remains in force for Moore Hill Lane.

A Level 1 "Get Ready" notice is still in effect for the Clearwater area; Susan Creek; and a portion of Highway 138E west of the public land boundary.

CLOSURES

A stretch Highway 138E remains closed - sometimes to firefighters, too.

"Firefighters continue to be challenged by falling debris that often prohibited use of Highway 138 East," fire managers said in a briefing Wednesday.

Firefighters have conducted "burnout" operations to use fire to fight fire. By burning vegetation using a low-intensity fire, crews put blackened earth between the uncontrolled fire and the control line, starving the advancing wildfire of potential fuel.

Large swaths of the Umpqua National Forest are closed to the public. Rafter, hikers, mountain bikers and hunters should consult local land managers for updates before setting off for the North Umpqua region.

Closed areas include sections north and south of the North Umpqua River from milepost 30 (east of Susan Creek Campground) to milepost 51 (just west of Eagle Rock Campground).

An area south of Highway 138 between Watson Falls and Garwood Butte is also closed as are several trails around Mount Bailey and portions of the North Umpqua Trail east of Toketee.

A number of roads on the west of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness and trails within the Wilderness are closed.

WHAT IS OPEN?

The Umpqua National Forest offered suggestions for areas that are OPEN for recreation with the Labor Day weekend approaching:

East of Cottage Grove: There are no wildfires burning on the Cottage Grove Ranger District which makes for great camping along Brice Creek at Rujada, Cedar Creek, Lund Park, and Hobo Camp campgrounds. Seven waterfall trails between 0.3 and 2.6 miles in length are an extra treat found in the area. Locations on the Umpqua National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/umpqua.

Little River Corridor: Drive Forest Road 27 to reach Wolf Creek, Coolwater, White Creek, Lake in the Woods, Hemlock Meadows, and Hemlock Lake campgrounds. Nearby hikes include Shadow Falls, Yakso Falls, Hemlock Falls, and Clover Falls.

North of Tiller: Drive north on Forest Road 28 (South Umpqua Road) to grab a campsite at 3 C Rock, Dumont Creek, Boulder Creek, Ash Flat, South Umpqua Falls, or Camp Comfort campgrounds. South Umpqua Falls day-use area remains open for water play and picnicking.

Along Highway 138: The north bank of the North Umpqua River near Steamboat Inn is open to public access. Please stop at the Steamboat Inn at milepost 38 for information about the river access. The North Umpqua River is closed from Boulder Flat Raft Launch to the Susan Creek Campground. Toketee Lake, Whitehorse and Clearwater campgrounds are open as are trails to Toketee Falls, Watson Falls, Whitehorse Falls, and Clearwater Falls.

Lemolo Lake and Diamond Lake: All Forest Service campgrounds near Lemolo Lake and Diamond Lake are open. The Diamond Lake and Lemolo resorts and the Diamond Lake RV Park are also open. Since Highway 138 remains closed between mileposts 43 and 54, use Highway 230 to connect with Highway 138.

North Umpqua Trail: Three segments are open to hiking, bicycling and horseback riding: Swiftwater, Lemolo and Maidu. Swiftwater segment is 7.8-mile section from Swiftwater trailhead to Tioga bridge. Lemolo (6.3 miles) and Maidu (9 miles) segments are the two easternmost sections of the 79-mile trail with access at White Mule trailhead and Kelsay Valley trailhead.

FIRES IN THE UMPQUA NORTH COMPLEX

Fall Creek: 2,667 acres. Crews focused on line improvement, burnout of indirect lines

Happy Dog: 5,669 acres. Emphasis on structure protection, line construction and contingency planning.

Ragged Ridge: 1,376 acres. Fire crews are working to develop control lines to west and east using roads.

Oak Nob: 59 acres. Crews are on mop-up duty and patrol.

Brokentooth fires: 605 acres. Crews working to hold and improve line, conduct line construction.

Devil’s Canyon fires: 408 acres. Firefighters working to hold Fire #320, check spread on Fire #305.

Calf Copeland fires: 893 acres. Emphasis now on assessing situation and developing a strategy.

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