Crews continue to make progress on the Cow Fire southeast of Prairie City, which is 55% contained as of Wednesday morning.
Tuesday, crews worked to find and extinguish spots outside the containment line and continued mopping up areas immediately inside firelines, to create a wide, black, cold barrier to the fire’s spread, according to a press release.
Crews raked smoldering surface fuels away from the stems of living large pines near Forest Road 13 to increase their long-term survival. In the evening and late into the night, crews completed the last piece of strategic firing to remove surface fuels along the north containment line near Swamp Creek, and will begin mopping up this area Wednesday.
The fire has reached the lines identified, built and reinforced over the past several weeks, completing the containment objectives originally set for the fire.
Lower humidity, brisk afternoon winds and a more unstable atmosphere Wednesday will allow remaining unburned areas within containment lines to burn actively. Five heavy helicopters capable of dropping water and retardant and two fixed-wing air attack supervision airplanes are assigned to the operation. Crews will continue to search areas outside the line for spot fires.
The number of total personnel assigned will continues to decrease as the containment level rises. With the conclusion of fireline construction and hazardous tree removal near firelines, various heavy equipment will also be released.
Northwest Interagency Incident Management Team 9 completes its two-week tour of duty today, and will transition command to the Boise National Incident Management Organization team at 6 a.m. on Sept. 5. The overall fire suppression strategy will not change.
A temporary flight restriction remains in place. The NOTAM is 9/9780. Please remember, the use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS, or “drone”) within the TFR is prohibited. Any drone incursion will force the grounding of all firefighting aircraft.
Forest Road 13 remains closed at the Deardorff Summit, along with Forest Road 16 between the Short Creek Guard Station (the junction of forest roads 13 and 16) and the junction of forest roads 1665 and 16. The North Fork Malheur Campground is closed.
To protect public and firefighter safety, a Closure Order is in effect for the vicinity of the Cow Fire and surrounding roads. The Closure Order can be viewed on the Cow Fire InciWeb site at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6526.
The Incident Management Team remains prepared to initial attack new fires in the vicinity of the Cow Fire, and to support other efforts in the area if requested by local agencies. Firefighting equipment assigned includes 12 handcrews, nine engines, three dozers, five heavy and one light helicopters, one chipper, one skidder and two “skidgens” (skidders with mounted water tanks).