Communities, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Potter Fire Update

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 Westfir, Ore., Aug. 1, 2022— The Potter Fire, which was first reported at 60 acres Sunday morning on the Willamette National Forest’s Middle Fork Ranger District, 8 Miles NE of Clearwater, OR, was estimated at close to 400 acres with 0% containment this morning. There was significant lightning activity in the area the last few days and, combined with the triple digit heat, the occurrence of fire was not unexpected. While the fire was reported very active Sunday, today’s slightly cooler temperatures have reduced the fire behavior and this morning was observed smoldering and creeping,

Sunday, two squads of five local firefighters and an engine were sent in quickly to locate, confirm and size up the fire. Full crews were broken into squads to allow more responders to cover many new starts. Later Sunday afternoon, a local Type 2 team was ordered and a full, 20-person crew from the neighboring Siuslaw National Forest was brought in to help. Northwest Incident Management Team 6, with Shawn Sheldon as Incident Commander, was in-briefed this morning at 9 am. The team will shadow today and take over management at 6:00 am Tuesday morning. They will manage both the Potter Fire on the Willamette National Forest and the Windigo Fire on the Umpqua National Forest.

Current Incident Commander Jimmer Hunt said the Potter Fire is burning in a remote area of heavy dead and down trees and has been fairly spotty. The focus has been on using reprod (areas of planted trees) to control the fire, as well as looking to improve existing roads from recent fires, all in order to get closer to the fire’s edge.

Northwest Oregon Interagency Fire Management Staff Officer Ed Hiatt, made it clear that Potter Fire is a full suppression fire. “We want to keep this fire’s footprint as small as possible and all assigned people and equipment will be focused on finding ways to work as close to the edge as safely possible. We are actively looking for every opportunity to stop the spread.” According to Hunt, many of the roads closest to the fire were closed up during past suppression efforts and heavy equipment has been ordered to get them open.

Four full crews of 20 people will be working on the fire today, primarily on the southeast corner and heading to the north and west. There are two, 20 person Type 2 contract crews, a Type 2 IA crew from the Middle Fork Ranger District and the Le Grande Hotshots assigned.

The Pacific Crest Trail has been closed from OR 138 to Summit Lake due to the Windigo Fire. The Willamette National Forest is also working on an area closure and will provide the official closure order soon. Until then, however, for your own safety please avoid the area around the Potter Fire.

Air quality may continue to be a concern for Oregonians, especially in the western part of the state. There has been a haze over the state since late last week due primarily to the McKinney Fire in California. With that fire’s activity increasing, along with new fires in Oregon, air quality will continue to be an issue.

It’s never too early to be thinking about smoke. Hazardous air quality poses a high-risk to those with existing respiratory issues, but long-term exposure can affect healthy people too. There are multiple resources to stay informed of air quality in your area and to help you prepare for fire season. For more information and tips on keeping your family safe this summer, visit the smoke information blogs for Oregon or Washington at http://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/ or https://fire.airnow.gov/ for additional resources and current air quality readings in your area.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender

Leslie W. Garcia (She/Her/Ella)
Public Affairs Specialist

Forest Service

Willamette National Forest

Cell: (458)209-7288

[email protected]

3106 Pierce Parkway, Suite D
Springfield, OR 97477
www.fs.fed.us

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