Maxwell fire 40 percent contained
Burnout operations began on MondayAs of Tuesday morning, the Maxwell Fire had consumed 4,750 acres in the Bridge Creek Wilderness Area six miles southwest of Mitchell.
According to Information Officer Type 2 Trainee Kathleen Kavalok, 961 personnel are working on the blaze, which is now 40 percent contained. The fire has been determined to be caused by lightning, according to Washington Incident Management Team 2 Incident Commander Rex Reed.
"We have gotten one more helicopter and a few more people," Kavalok said.
"The fire is burning in wilderness area with heavy timber, dead and down trees and in forest land outside of the wilderness area," he said. "The rugged, steep terrain continues to challenge firefighting efforts."
"Firefighters made good progress yesterday (Saturday) on the fire," he said. "Saturday brought lower temperatures, gusty winds, and higher relative humidity to the area, which aided fire crews throughout the day. Crews worked through the night conducting dozer operations on the northeast perimeter."
Infrared devices used over the fire identified hot spots and indicated less acreage burned.
Kavalok said a burnout operation will be conducted, starting today and will take several days to complete.
"So people will see more smoke," she added.
Agencies from across the nation are working on the fire.
"Cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity have helped in the progress," Reed said. "Additional resources, including the Baker River Hot Shot Crew, will focus efforts on scouting and developing a burn plan for the northeast portion of the fire, which is located in the wilderness area."
Burnout operations were planned for Monday on the southwest portion of the blaze below the 2630 Road, outside of the wilderness area.
"Smoke from these operations may be visible to the public throughout the day," Reed said. "Resource advisers are working closely with fire crews to ensure minimum impact to sensitive areas. Advisers are beginning to develop rehabilitation plans that are implemented after completion of suppression activities."
"Helicopters making water drops will be used throughout the fire perimeter," he added.
Reed said that as the day continued to get warmer, the potential for torching and some spotting continued. Snags, rolling debris, heat stress, the potential of material reburning and fatigue are always of concern when fighting a wildland fire.
Additionally, a complete area closure went into effect beginning at noon Sunday. That closure includes the northern Forest Service boundary between the 450 Road and 22 Road. Roads 450, 2630, and 150 are closed. The 22 Road is open, but the area north and west along the 22 Road is closed to the public. Camp closures are the Allen Creek Horse Camp and Scott Camp.
Another meeting was held Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in the Mitchell Community Center, and about 30 Mitchell residents attended that session.
As fires rage across central Oregon, Deschutes County 9-1-1 and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) personnel are asking the public to direct telephone inquiries about the region's wildland fires to fire information offices with incident management teams directing suppression efforts. Deschutes County 9-1-1 should only be called for emergencies. ODOT offices should only be telephoned for information about Oregon transportation systems, transportation safety programs, motor carrier regulations and driver and vehicle licensing.