Newspaper Archive of
Hells Canyon Journal
Halfway, Oregon
September 7, 1994     Hells Canyon Journal
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September 7, 1994

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Page 10 Hells Canyon Journal September 7, 1994 Twin Lakes Tour p Look at Forest Fire by David Baker of the/4de C.anl Joum# A trip into the Twin Lakes Fire last Friday was reassur- ing in some ways, spooky in others. At that time, infrared pho- tos had confirmed the size of the fire at over 10,300 acres -- an oblong north/south block on the map. We entered the fire zone about two miles before the ' summit offish Lake Road -- about four road miles from Fish Lake. There were hun- dreds of small, smoldering fires on either side of the read, with live flame showing in only a few of them. Almost immediately we were stopped where a live but retting tree, about four InqloQo IW Dec~ld hkaw RRE FIGHTERS point out hot spots and danger areas on a map of the forest. feet in diameter, had been weakened and toppled by fire at the base. We waited about half an hour while a fire crew cut out sections of the trunk and threw them off the read. While we were waiting a large "sky hook" helicopter made several trips overhead, flying south in the direction of lower caused by sparks and embers -- made up most of the burn. At that time, Fish Lake Camp- ground had not been touched and did not seemed to be im- mediately threatened. The real danger lay in un- derestimating the fire. We had hints of it several times when we passed dead spruce snags which suddenly became huge torches as fire caught in the lower branches and Pine Valley with 1,000-gal, jumped almost instantly to Ion dump buckets of water. On toward Fish Lal there were patches where had consumed several acres of trees and undergrowth, leav- ing only blackened snags. But totally-burned patches the top. Several such trees catching at once, fueled by the wind, could blow the heat of the fire up the steep can- yon side and into our faces in just a few seconds. Since 14 firefighters were out-run a fire. When a hot fire gets into a lot of dry fuel, it can move faster than you can run. "When we go in, we're al- ways talking amohg our- selves about where there are safety zones if the fire does blow up at us, and if there isn't a good safety zone close by we'll go into the black, where it's already been burned. That's the safest area, because the fn-e won't back-track through it -- if it's been burned, it's done. We can be fairly safe working close to a fire if there's a black area we can 'get into in case the fire flares up. "Most of the time a fire will seemed to be t iexception by fire in Colorado ear- stay on the ground if the fuel along our route, hich took l er this year, safety has been loadisn'ttooheavy.Ifafireis us to an overlook two miles beyond Fish Lake before a fire safety officer told us it was time to leave the area. There, looking down into the Lake Fork drainage, we spot- ted only two or three places where billowing smoke indi- cated a hot fire. It appeared that less than emphasized even more. Greg Knickerbocker, a member of the 20-man Miller Timber fire crew from Philomath and Salem, commented, "We've really tightened up on every- thing -- everyone watches out for the crews. We watch for snags, we pay attention to where the fire isburning, we haft of the trees along the watch for wind -- we've re- route had been consumed or ally buckled down on safety. climbing trees [crowning] it will jump a fire line. If fire gets into bug-killed stands, about the only thing a fire crew can do is stay out of the way. "When we're digging a line we're usually within five to ten feet of each other. Every- body watches out for every- one else. We have the cutters up in front, getting down trees "If fire gets into bug-killed stands, *about the only thing a fire crew can do is stay out of the way." Greg Knickerbocker, fire fighter and brtlsh vith the chain saw, then people with the hand tools right behind, followed by trail dressers who make svce there's no fuel in the trail. When we're doing mop- up work, the fellers cut down burning snags -- they hold a lot of heat, and they're a haz- ard for the fire fighters." mmto ~/D~Id ht~ LOOKING BACK TOWARD FISH LAKE from the Lake Fork Overlook. Visibility was about two miles. damaged, and that "spotting" No matter where you are, -- small, separated fires even on the fiat, you cant Itchy Fire Side Effects " spread through the camp.., using Porta- by Pat Garri0us - potties they just didn't know. Anyhow, I Can-,-Joumd# literally gathered up all the Kwell... a .... , "-" " lotion that kills the scabies mite which What's red, bumpy and itchy all over? burrows under the skin and is really itchy ? It's And in a. fire camp .... in two counties and headed ou . Pine Valley Family Nurse Practitioner about a hundred miles from here to that Donna Hammer was contacted by the Or- fire. They had already shipped out the egon Department of Forestry to investi- known carriers. I examined from 5 p.m. ! ., j. gate the possibility of a further outbreak of until I I p.m. and then from 5 a.m. until 9 scabies at the Ironside Fire out of Unity. a.m. the next day, probably about 30 people. Donna relates last weekend's experience: "I didn't find any new outbreaks; it was w o ,: "Sandra Traw gave them my name mostly f or reassurance--you can't imag- : ...........~, ~ ~. ............ : ....... ..... o- Elizabeth Hospital in Baker City)andthat there's a possibility of scabies. ........... w " was ok... I got to sleep at the fire camp "I did treat some bronchitis and poison and see what goes on; it was really a lot of ivy. I had a lot of itch medicine with me," TOTAL BURNOUT, leaving only blackened snags and a fun ........... = ....... Donna concluded.scratching absently at a ,floor of ash.,were,tbe exception ratl er than th , rule in the, , -, - , ,, . , , ,, ,,, , , n ght knee andthen'a shoulderblade. : area.: .............