UKIAH — Crews have made continued progress on containing the Birch Creek Fire burning at 35 acres in size in the Umatilla National Forest about 12 miles northeast of Ukiah.
The fire is estimated at 50% containment as of Friday, Sept. 18, after firefighters continued strengthening lines and mopping up hot spots in recent days, according to a press release.
“Mopping up includes searching for pockets of heat, digging out the heat source, and cooling with water,” the release stated. “There are pockets of unburned fuel within the interior of the fire, which may produce smoke as the fire moves through those areas.”
Crews will finish construction of contingency lines to protect private property to the southwest of the fire and were on the lookout Sept. 18 with rain, wind and potentially thunder and lightning storms in the weather forecast.
“Crews will be alert for increased hazards if high winds occur, such as flare-ups or falling snags weakened by fire,” the release stated.
A local Type 3 Incident Management Team led by Steve Meyer is in command of the fire and resources assigned to the scene include six engines, three crews, seven water tenders, two dozers, two masticators, one feller buncher and one skidder.
For firefighter safety, the U.S. Forest Service has closed Forest Service Road (FSR) 54, FSR 5411 and FSR 5412, in addition to closing the portions of the forest surrounding the fire.
The Birch Creek Fire was first reported on Monday, Sept. 14, and required the U.S. Forest Service and Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office to evacuate hunters and visitors from the area of the fire. The cause is under investigation.