A wildland fire near Humbug Mountain south of Port Orford commanded resources from throughout the region Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 1, but unofficial reports are that it was contained by about 6 p.m. at about four acres. Fire crews will continue efforts to maintain lines through the night.
The fire is on China Mountain, east of Humbug Mountain State Park.
Coos Forest Protective Association reported the fire on its Facebook page just after 3 p.m., showing the fire burning on a ridge between Port Orford and Gold Beach.
At about 4:15 p.m., State Rep. David Brock Smith commented on the fire, also on Facebook.
“I appreciate all of the first responders attacking this fire that started a short time ago just north of Humbug Mountain, south of Port Orford,” he said. “I’ve spoken to ODF, CFPA and Rogue-Siskiyou Forest Supervisor (Merv) George and they are using all resources available. Air assets are on the fire and more are on the way for a robust initial attack.”
Smith warned that there might be power interruptions from Port Orford south due to the proximity of the main lines and the fire. At the time of this posting, the only outage shown by Coos Curry Electric was one in Port Orford affecting 11 customers. If there were earlier outages they were resolved.
After seeing the Coos FPA report of the fire, Cheryl Duffell of the Del Norte and Curry County scanner group shared the photos with the group on Facebook and members and followers began to share their comments.
Unofficial reports passed on by people listening to emergency scanners and communicating with people in the vicinity of the fire are that personnel from CPFA were joined by Gold Beach, Ophir, Port Orford and Sixes, along with Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and air support including helicopters dropping water and single engine air tankers dropping retardant. Air support reportedly came from Roseburg and Medford.
A camper in Humbug Mountain State Park reported seeing smoke just after 3 p.m. She said she talked with a park ranger and was told there was no imminent danger at that time because the fire was moving toward the east. She said she saw lots of planes and helicopters in the air.
The Douglas Forest Protective Association reported that two single engine air tankers that were activated just the day before to help support the Sweet Creek Fire in western Lane County from Roseburg were dispatched to assist Coos FPA with the new fire start.
According to Douglas FPA, the SEATs are fixed wing aircraft that are used to fight wildfires by delivering around 800 gallons of water, fire suppressant or fire retardant to wildfires.
“Strategically, the Roseburg Airport is a great location for SEATs as they have an effective flight distance of about 70 miles when fighting fire," the agency commented in a Facebook post. “Considering Roseburg's location in southern Oregon, a SEAT working out of the Roseburg Airport can cover the majority of Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Coos, Curry and Lane counties.” This is the seventh consecutive fire season that the Roseburg Airport has been used as a SEAT Base.
Firefighter Juan Saucedo of Ophir Fire was among those dispatched to the fire. At about 6 p.m. he and others were staged along Highway 101 at the entrance to Humbug Mountain State Park campground. He said he arrived about 3:30 p.m. and assisted with water tanker runs.
But by 6 p.m. Saucedo told The Pilot, it was his understanding that between air support and a bulldozer line the fire was contained.
This seems to be consistent with a report Scott Turner made on the scanner group Facebook page about 20 minutes earlier.
“The fire is creeping slowly now,” Turner posted. “Helos can keep up with fire. Making good progress on hose lays around fire. USFS on site now to release city firetrucks. East side slope is the hardest to line right now because of steep terrain.”
Ann Schmierer of Port Orford shared video of a helicopter approaching the fire area. She said she believed the fire was on some Moore Mill property east of Humbug.
“Looks like it started next to the road near the power lines, so somebody probably tossed a cigarette or their catalytic converter caught some grass on fire when they drove through that area," she posted. “Appears to be under control but not sure about further east — that is some rugged country back there."
Turner reported on the release of the air support for the day and at 7:48 p.m. said some CFPA crews from Coos Bay were released and back at their station. He said hand crews would be working through the night hand lining and putting out hot spots along the containment line.
Just before 8 pm. Sixes Fire posted photos from the fire on their Facebook page, along with a comment about the afternoon’s activity.
“Sixes RFPD responded this afternoon to a brush fire up China Mountain Road near Humbug campground. It was believed to be started by power lines. Port Orford Fire, Ophir Fire, Shutter Creek, Gold Beach Fire, Coos Forest, the State Park Service and the Curry Sheriff's Office all collaborated in a huge joint effort to stop the spread. Thank you everyone who was involved!!”