Thursday, July 24, 2008

Forest Fire

Tuesday we worked again clearing the trail along the ditch. Then, as we returned to the trailer, driving up from Tygh to Wamic, we saw a large plume of white smoke coming from the direction of our part of the wildlife area. As Ie drove the next 6 to 7 miles, it looked more and more like the smoke could be near our home. John kept saying "kick it in the butt," but I was on a washboard gravel road and couldn't drive any faster. The tension in the truck kept growing. We drove right by the office and up to the trailer. We were relieved to see the fire was some distance over the ridge west of the trailer. So we went back to the office to find out what had happened.

Josh, manager of the area, had spent the day working around headquarters, so he saw the early smoke and watched the forest service firefighters come to fight the blaze. He learned that it was started by a campfire—no burning is allowed in Oregon at this time of year without a burn permit. Very early three fire investigators were on the scene, working to find who was responsible. If that can be determined, those people will be charged with the expense of fighting the fire. That could be significant.

The fire was largely out by dark after several helicopters and a large tanker plane had been dumping water on the fire for hours. For a while we watched the helicopters coming in with buckets of water to dump on the fire. It is only three miles over the hill. Wednesday morning there was very little visible smoke. We went off to again work on the ditch. At the end of the day we could see a few wisps of smoke from that area as we returned to the trailer. It must take a long time to put a fire completely out.

This is the first time we have been working this close to a forest fire. This part of Oregon is very dry and we might experience this again before the end of August. We hope not, but can't count on that.

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