GLIDE — About 200 people attended a community meeting in Glide on Tuesday night to listen to fire officials talk about the Umpqua North Complex fires, and to give residents of the area a chance to ask questions about the progress, evacuations, road closures and other topics.
As of this morning, the fire complex totaled 11,680 acres and was only 1 percent contained, according to the fire management report.
Jim Schwarber, the information officer for the Alaska Incident Management Team, gave an update on the fire activity within the complex. The Alaska Team is managing the nine fires in the Umpqua North Complex that span Bureau of Land Management, Umpqua National Forest and private timberlands.
“One of the big questions, and it’s a little out of our control, but people wondered when the North Umpqua Highway will be reopened in that section,” Schwarber said.
Highway 138 East is closed from mileposts 31 to 35 and from mileposts 43 to 54 due to rolling debris and snags falling across the road. Schwarber said it’s not safe for the public to drive in those areas.
He said information about evacuation Levels 1, 2, and 3 and what they mean was also provided.
The Dry Creek area remains in evacuation Level 3, which has been in place for several days. There is a Level 1 evacuation in effect for the Susan Creek Campground area, and in the Toketee area east of the fire. A Level 2 evacuation has been in place for several days on Moore Hill Lane. For more information on what each level means, visit inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5505.
Schwarber said fires in the Fall Creek and Dry Creek areas have priority. The Fall Creek fire is approaching the Forest Service boundary near the Susan Creek Campground area.
“Those are the two priority areas due to private timber values and people’s homes and structures that are at risk in the Dry Creek areas,” Schwarber said.
He said a large structure protection group of firefighters and equipment has been actively protecting those structures.
“At this point, no major structures have been damaged or lost. There was one small tool shed on a remote ranch that burned, but we’ve been successful to date on protecting people’s homes and businesses in that corridor,” Schwarber said.
Schwarber said having fires scattered around the area makes it more complicated to manage, but he added they have lots of help to do it.
“The Alaska team is also working closely with numerous cooperators, and I can’t say strongly enough that we have an extremely productive operative working relationship with the Douglas Forest Protective Association, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, the BLM and Pacific Power,” Schwarber said.
“That 1 percent is fire lines that we feel are secure and the fire won’t cross, but there are a lot of other containment lines that have taken place, but we’re just not confident that if we have a wind event, that they will hold,” he said.
Another public meeting is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. today at the Toketee Ranger Station.