The incident management team fighting the Bruler Fire in Linn County reported an increase in acreage as the fire made a run on the western flank toward previously established containment lines.
According to a press release, the fire is still within the perimeter, however, and is now considered 12% contained.
The Bruler Fire first became active on July 12 when it was discovered burning northeast of Green Peter Reservoir and several miles south of Detroit. After about a week in the 150-acre estimated range, the fire is now estimated to be 195 acres.
U.S. Forest Service crews have established a perimeter around the fire, digging lines and clearing fuel to stop the fire’s spread beyond that perimeter.
A Type 2 Incident Management Team, which has extra personnel and authority to delegate resources to this blaze, was assigned in the middle of last week. This has led to an accumulation of more than 250 personnel assigned to fight the Bruler Fire, including one aerial helicopter providing water dumps and infrared mapping.
Part of the increase in acreage is attributed to better mapping images, according to the press release.
Fire officials say that current efforts to mop up the fuels and apply control lines of hoses and sprinklers are necessary to stop it from spreading. However, the rugged terrain is limiting the amount of direct attacking crews can do, meaning the fire is likely to continue burning for weeks.
“Due to the rugged terrain, deep duff layer and large old trees, this fire will be on the landscape until we receive significant rain,” incident commander Brian Gales wrote in the release. “Taking the energy out of the fire area is critical to our success and remains our highest priority.”
This is why officials say current efforts are focused on clearing out fuels and making sure the containment perimeter will actually hold the fire in place. The online InciWeb portal that details this fire warns that hotter temperatures and lower humidity in the coming weeks could increase fire activity. Low winds have helped keep the fire from spreading, but increases in wind activity could also fan the fire.
The roads and recreation areas surrounding the Bruler Fire will remain closed, too, as additional vehicles and machinery move into the area.
The closure contains much of the northern stretch of the Quartzville Recreation Corridor, the Middle Santiam Wilderness, and the Old Cascade Crest trail system. The full map of closures is found on the Forest Service website at www.fs.usda.gov.
So far, the fire has not had a significant impact on the air quality of surrounding communities, as both Sweet Home and Detroit are showing healthy air status on the Oregon Smoke Blog website. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Troy Shinn covers healthcare, natural resources and the Linn County government. He can be reached at 541-812-6114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be found on Twitter at @troydshinn.