Monday, August 13 2012, 11:09 PM CDT
Firefighters make progress on wildfires
By Krystle Henderson/KTVL.com
APPLEGATE LAKE, Ore. - Firefighters made progress on the Fort Complex fires burning near the Oregon-California border. Two of those fires are not far from Applegate Lake.
With only 10 percent of the fires contained, crews still have a lot of work to do.
"There was a lot of increased fire behavior, more intense fire behavior and a lot of activity in the afternoon," Rick Johnston with the U.S. Forest Service said.
More than 600 firefighters are working to control the flames from the ground and the air. But when some helicopters lifted off to bring water to the fires, they didn't get very far.
"The smoke is so thick that we had to turn those tankers back, it wasn't safe to have them operate in this low visibility conditions," Johnston said.
The Goff fire is the largest at 965 acres; the Hello fire burning 465 acres and the Lick fire grew to 357 acres Monday. About 1,787 acres are burning in all.
Firefighters have made the most progress on the Lick fire, a containment line is now set-up all the way around the flames.
But the hot, dry weather is working against fire crews, causing explosive fire growth.
"Without relative humidities recovering in the evening, the fine fuels just continue to dry, get drier and drier and as a result, more and more combustible," Johnston said.
Crews are not just dealing with the triple-digit heat along the front lines, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are also a concern while at base camp. After spending all day or all night on the fire line, crews camp out in hundreds of tents.
Firefighters are not only having to battle the flames in the heat but they're having to sleep in it too. "There's not much shade, image yourself coming off a long shift in the evening where it's a struggle to navigate the terrain because it's so steep, then to come to get your rest where it's over 100 degrees," Johnston said.
On Monday, roads were closed near the south end of Applegate Lake.
The U.S. Forest Service is holding a community meeting in the Applegate Tuesday evening. Fire officials will be answering questions and talking about the latest fire conditions. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Upper Applegate Grange Hall.