About 35 residents from Azalea and surrounding communities spent part of their Saturday night listening to fire officials and hearing about ongoing burn out operations. Operations Section Chief John Pellisier explained the ongoing burnout operations on the southern end of the fire.
“We have been working for the better part of a week preparing this area for fire. We plan to take a cautious approach, burning out small chunks at a time.” This incremental approach will keep the fire close to the ground and avoid putting large amounts of smoke and ash in the air.
Putting fire into steep rugged terrain calls for building contingency plans. Structural Liaison Officer Steve Bowen explained how structures and residences of Upper Cow Creek would be protected.
“We have three structural task forces standing by in case we need them. You have my word that, if needed, we will be here,” remarked Steve Bowen. Residents took the opportunity to thank the firefighters and ask questions about what happens next.
Today’s fire tactics call for continuing the burn out operations on the fire’s southern perimeter and deepening mop up lines on the northern reaches of the fire lines. The next few days should bring higher temperatures and lower humidities which could provide favorable conditions for the burn out operations.
Residents near the communities of Drew and Tiller might see increased smoke over the next few days. Motorists are urged to use caution when driving through smoke, treat it like they would fog and turn on their low-beam headlights. Those with smoke sensitivities should avoid extended exposure to smoky air.
The Stouts Creek Fire has been managed under unified command by Oregon Department of Forestry Team 2 Incident Commander Chris Cline and Forest Service Incident Commander Mike Wilde, since August 13.
The fire has blackened 24,471 acres and 69% contained. There are 1,441 personnel assigned to the fire with 28 crews, 23 engines, 21 water tenders, 17 bulldozers and 10 helicopters. Numbers of personnel and equipment will continue to shrink as objectives are met and these resources move on to assist with many of the other fires in the state and geographic area.
To date the Stout Creek Fire has cost $29 million. The Incident Management Team is protecting lands that are about 48% on state protected lands, which include BLM and private lands and 52% on the Umpqua National Forest.