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Crews battling two forest fires in Molalla River Corridor


A 100-acre blaze that broke out Tuesday is being mopped up, but a second 35-acres fire on the middle fork of the Molalla River is still raging

by: KAREN GRAVES - One of two helicopters fighting a 100-acre blaze in the Molalla River Corridor Monday evening carries another bucket of water to drop on the fire. Another fire broke out Tuesday monring on the middle Fork of the Molalla River.Firefighters are battling the second forest fire to break out in 24 hours in the Molalla River Corridor timber land, about 20 miles from Molalla.

Ken Cushman, Unit Forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry, Molalla Unit, said a 100-acre fire on Williams Lake broke out late Monday afternoon. Helicopters were called in to dump water on the blaze.

“We had two helicopters working that fire, and they helped bring it under control, along with four engines and two ten-person crews fighting that fire,” Cushman said Tuesday morning. “Crews are mopping up and will continue to mop up for another week yet, until we get some rain. We had crews out on that fire all night.”

A second fire broke out on the middle fork of the Molalla River this morning, and has so far burned 35 acres of timber.

Cushman said crews currently have a bulldozer on the middle fork fire, three engines and a 10-person ground crew trying to bring it under control. At 1 p.m. today, two additional 10-person crews were on on the way to the middle fork fire.

“The woods are getting dry because of the east wind and low humidity,” he said. “We are getting wind gusts of 15 mph, and we are in fire season again — fire season-like conditions again.”

Currently, the plan is to have a cap line going in on the middle fork fire and using existing road to hold it to 35 acres, he said.

“It may grow, if we get a spot fire or two, but I was talking to the incident commander, and they are feeling pretty good about getting it under control," he said. "But if the wind gets any stronger, we may lose additional acres.”

Both fires are on state-protected private land, at least some of it owned by Weyerhaeuser.

The cause of both fires, which are about 20 miles apart, are under investigation, but Cushman said it has been determined that neither was caused by a camper.

by: PEGGY SAVAGE - Smoke from the forest fires in the Molalla River Corridor drifts across the river Tuesday afternoon. The smoke is noticeable in the city of Molalla.He said the unseasonably dry weather is an important factor. Firefighters are looking at the long-range weather forecast, hoping for rain, but so far, none is in sight, he said.

The forest service is asking people in the area to hold off from doing any burning that could start a fire until get we get back into Oregon’s normal rainy pattern for this time of year.