Incident #719 is a lightning-caused wildfire that ignited when storms passed over Central Oregon this past week. Smokejumpers responded to this fire burning in a very remote area off the Metolius arm of Lake Billy Chinook. Initial evaluations determined the fire was burning in the top of two large snags in an area surrounded by thick brush as tall as a person.
Snags, and debris falling from snags, is one of the top dangers a firefighter can face and something that leads to injuries and even fatalities every year. To mitigate the risk on this incident, the jumpers came up a with a plan – instead of working underneath dangerous snags, they would use a helicopter to bring buckets of water to cool the trees and monitor the fire. If the fire burns out of the snags and starts to move on the ground, the jumpers will catch it from a safer area.
Until the fire is out, jumpers will monitor it and use helicopter bucket drops as needed. If conditions change, the jumpers will reevaluate and take appropriate action to contain the fire. In the meantime, boaters on the Metolius arm of Lake Billy Chinook may see smoke for a few days.