Strategic fire is shown in this Sept. 1 photo from the west side of the Rum Creek Fire. [Credit: Steven Pearce]
Blaze ranks highest in Haines Index category amid Tuesday fire weather watch
Fire officials feared the high winds, soaring temperatures and low relative humidity predicted for Tuesday could be a recipe for the Rum Creek Fire to grow and jump containment lines.
“Tomorrow’s weather will provide a test for the lines of fire,” said a Labor Day news release.
As a result, fire managers on Tuesday categorized the blaze as Haines Category 6, the highest level using “the tool to estimate the effect of atmospheric drought and stability on fire growth potential.” , according to the press release.
The Haines 6 rating matches the National Weather Service’s Fire Weather Watch issued Tuesday afternoon and evening in the area of the Rum Creek Fire.
“In anticipation of this changing climate, firefighters are working aggressively to further contain the fire,” the Labor Day press release read.
To prevent the fire from spreading, “tactical firing” near McKnabe Creek, on the east side of the Rum Creek Fire, was to be completed by Labor Day. Firefighters continued to clean up around the perimeter of the fire and near any structures where the fire could cross main lines.
“This hard work is reflected in the increase in containment to 34%,” the statement said.
Even before the holidays, firefighters completed the remainder of the planned tactical firing on the west side of the Rum Creek Fire, connecting the northern lines of Mount Peavine to the Rogue River.
State fire marshal resources continued to “clear remaining hot spots near structures, cut down hazardous trees, and patrol areas along Galice Road,” according to the news release. Additionally, firefighters were “also working on structural assessment and pre-planning to the north and southeast of the fire.”
This work came as the fire marshal began demobilizing task forces from the Rum Creek fire and reassigned two of his task forces to the Double Creek fire near the northeast border of Oregon and from Idaho. Governor Kate Brown invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to have the fire marshal take “unified command” on August 26 of the Rum Creek Fire.
Existing evacuation orders and notifications for communities impacted by the Rum Creek Fire remained in place through Labor Day.
The Labor Day announcement by fire officials about likely weather activity on Tuesday came even after fire officials predicted Sunday’s heat and gusty weather would also test lines of control. By then, the Rum Creek Fire was 27% contained and had spread to 18,966 acres.
The Rum Creek Fire began Aug. 17 after lightning ignited part of the forest in Josephine County.
More information on the Rum Creek Fire can be found at https://tinyurl.com/JOCOEvacMap, https://www.facebook.com/rumcreekfire2022 and https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8348 /.
Contact journalist Kevin Opsahl at 541-776-4476 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @KevJourno.