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Cougar Creek Fire reaches 60 percent containment

 


Monday Aug. 31, (;25 a.m.:

Incident Command today reports the following:

Cougar Creek Fire crews took advantage of the cool wet weather over the weekend and continued to build line and prepare for additional burnout operations along Potato Hill Road. The east portion of the fire moved into patrol status as cooler temperatures and rain helped crews as they mopped up hot spots and strengthened containment lines. Today and tomorrow crews will prepare for additional burnouts that may take place on the northern and northeast part of the fire later this week if conditions become favorable. Crews continue to patrol and reinforce completed lines along the west, south, and east flanks of the fire.

Though the south end of the fire received a wetting rain, the rain did not penetrate the canopy in the northern portion of the fire. These areas will dry out quickly as the effects of the rain dissipate over the next few days. As vegetation dries out firefighters will be on the lookout for re-kindling of previously burned areas and snags that remain a danger.

A cold front is expected midweek that will bring cold unstable air and showers on the west side of the fire, but again, little rain is expected on the north/northwest portion of the fire. This will aid in planned burning operations but, may bring additional wind.

Washington Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (WAIIMT5) reached the 14 day operational limit on Aug. 26, but was extended for an additional five days. WAIIMT 5 handed over management of the fire to Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 (SCIIMT3) this morning at 6 a.m. This Type 2 team will continue focusing on building containment lines and completing burnouts on the northern part of the fire and increasing containment on the east side of the fire.

CLOSURES for the safety of firefighters and the public: DNR - All DNR State Trust lands and recreation sites within the Glenwood Block are closed. Yakama Nation – All forest resource lands are closed to the public, including tribal members. USFS – The Pacific Crest Trail through the Mt Adams Wilderness, the Mt. Adams Wilderness in its entirety, and all trails on the south and east sides of Mt. Adams are closed between Forest Road 23 at Williams Mine to the eastern boundary of the Forest. Forest Roads 80 & 82 are also closed.

Sunday Aug.30, 9:18 a.m.:

The latest from Incident Command this morning:

A low pressure system moved through the Cougar Creek Fire area yesterday, bringing with it erratic, gusty winds and areas of wetting rain. As the weather dominated the fire area, crews were engaged deliberately to ensure all firefighters were aware of potential hazards. Snags are a serious concern to the well-being of personnel on the line, and all precautions were taken prior to continuing with suppression operations.

The wetting rain that fell in the Glenwood Valley Friday morning is expected to slow progression of the Cougar Creek Fire, although only temporarily. The south and west perimeters of the fire received nearly an inch of rain, whereas the northeastern perimeter received a tenth of an inch. With the increase in relative humidity and drop in temperature, crews will be allowed a small window of opportunity to gain ground on containment lines. Crews will continue burnout operations west on Potato Hill Road as fuel moistures allow.

Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 arrived in Glenwood Friday. The incoming team will shadow Washington Interagency Incident Management Team 5 today and will assume command of the Cougar Creek Fire on Monday, Aug. 31 at 6 a.m. WIIMT5 is diligently working to brief the incoming team and ensure they have all necessary information to make the transfer of command a smooth process for all resources on the fire as well as the community. On behalf of WIIMT5 Incident Commander Dave Leitch, we would like to thank the community for their patience, support and generosity as we managed the Cougar Creek Fire.

Incident Command's web site states that total containment is expected by Thursday, Oct. 1.

CLOSURES for the safety of firefighters and the public: DNR - All DNR State Trust lands and recreation sites within the Glenwood Block are closed. Yakama Nation – All forest resource lands are closed to the public, including tribal members. USFS – The Pacific Crest Trail through the Mt Adams Wilderness, the Mt Adams Wilderness in its entirety, and all trails on the south and east sides of Mt Adams are closed between Forest Road 23 at Williams Mine to the eastern boundary of the Forest. Forest Roads 80 & 82 are also closed.

Saturday, Aug. 29, 10:14 a.m.:

Incident Command provided this update this morning:

Crews took advantage of favorable conditions and made progress on burnout operations yesterday along the northern portion of the fire. Burnout continued north along the 255 Road and progressed onto Potato Hill Road. Crews also continued firing operations throughout the night almost up to the division break between Divisions X and W.

A cold front is expected to bring wetting rain and high winds to the fire area today and through the weekend. While this will aid suppression efforts by slowing fire progression, it also introduces new hazards to fire operations including dangers from falling snags, spotting and erratic gusty winds.

The weather will dominate fire operations today. In light of the predicted high winds with gusts up to 50 mph crews will travel to the fire line in stages this morning to reduce overall risk and congestion on roads .

Excellent cooperation among agencies, local contract resources, and the community has been a key component in achieving success in controlling this fire while firefighting resources are stretched thin regionally and nationally. BIA, The Yakama Nation, USFS, and WDNR have pooled resources under the direction of Washington Interagency Incident Management Team 5 (WIIMT5) since August 12. For instance, the BIA has coordinated a surge of Yakama Nation firefighting crews to continue burning and to catch any potential spots along the 22 miles of containment line, which has been critical to the success of the operation.

WIIMT5 reached the 14 day operational limit on August 26, but were extended for another 7 days to maintain continuity during this critical time. A Type 2 Team from California has been assigned to replace Team 5 and will arrive this evening. They will shadow Team 5 on Sunday to facilitate a smooth transition.

CLOSURES for the safety of firefighters and the public: DNR - All DNR State Trust lands and recreation sites within the Glenwood Block are closed. Yakama Nation – All forest resource lands are closed to the public, including tribal members. USFS – The Pacific Crest Trail through the Mt Adams Wilderness, the Mt. Adams Wilderness in its entirety, and all trails on the south and east sides of Mt. Adams are closed between Forest Road 23 at Williams Mine to the eastern boundary of the Forest. Forest Roads 80 & 82 are also closed.

 

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