Today was another relatively active day for fire behavior on the Labrador Fire located south/west of the Illinois River and downstream of Oak Flat close to the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. The fire is currently estimated to be approximately 300 acres in size.
Challenges to the firefighters include post-Biscuit Fire conditions, which include scores of standing dead snags and 20 foot-high brush fields. The snags have a tendency to fall over, roll down hill and then re-ignite, making conditions very treacherous for the firefighters on the ground.
“This is a classic example of a situation that shouts watch out from a safety standpoint and all of our strategies must reflect firefighter safety as a top priority while suppressing this fire,” said Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Fire Management Officer Kevin Donham.
The Labrador Fire continues to back down toward the Illinois River and it remains active on all perimeters. Structure protection at Oak Flat has been the #1 priority. Firefighting resources have been staged on local property while the Incident Command Post takes shape. All private property structures have been triaged and assessed by structure protection specialists on scene.
Conditions were very smoky all day, making it difficult to obtain a good size up of the current fire perimeter. Firefighters scouted the fire area today to identify the most strategic locations for containment lines.
“We appreciate the willingness of local property owners to provide our firefighters with a staging area in relatively close proximity to the fire. We also appreciate the access that is being provided through locked gates on private land,” said Wild Rivers District Ranger Roy Bergstrom.
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is prepared to lead evacuation efforts should they become necessary. Private property owners are encouraged to cooperate with sheriff deputies throughout this fire season due to the potential for extreme fire behavior. The Josephine County Search and Rescue Unit are currently staffing the road block at Lake Selmac. Road and trail closures along the Illinois River Road are expected to be implemented soon.
“We appreciate Josephine County providing the facilities at Lake Selmac for the Incident Command Post. It is conveniently located for the suppression work that needs to be done to effectively fight this fire,” said Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Supervisor Rob MacWhorter.
[ posted by Virginia Gibbons, public affairs, Rogue River-Siskiou National Forest ]