Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

Fire officials are now saying the Chetco Bar Fire near Brookings is 97 percent contained but the estimated date of containment has not changed from the previously predicted Oct. 15 date.

Information Office Sarah Saarloos explained the date was originally set anticipating that the fire would last until a significant rain event would occur.

“However, we’re at 97 percent now and hoping to close that 100 percent door soon.”

Although warmer conditions are predicted in the coming week, Saarloos said that will give crews the opportunity to locate remaining hot spots inside the fire perimeter.

Asked if the fires at the north and south ends pose any threat to the community or homes, Saarloos said crews have not seen any fore movement in the remaining active areas.

“Movement equals threat,” she said, “and we’re just not seeing any.” She said a fly over was conducted that found areas of smoke rising from inside the burned areas, but not at the edges.

The Chetco Bar Fire has been burning for 77 days, as of Tuesday, and as of Sept. 24, only two areas were still burning at the farthest north and south points of the fire perimeter.

To date, the fire has consumed more than 191,000 acres. Of those, 6,756 acres are Bureau of Land Management properties, 223 acres are state property, 15,207 acres are private lands and the remaining 168,882 acres are U.S. Forest Service lands.

Fire officials will be holding a series of public meetings in Brookings, Gold Beach, Curry County and Cave Junction to provide updates and discuss the current status of the Chetco Bar Fire.

“This is an opportunity for the public to hear the Forest Service describe the full suppression actions that were taken in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on the Chetco Bar Fire,” a release said Monday.

“We’ll review the pattern of historic fires specific to this area and some of the challenges we face when fighting fires in Wilderness,” said Forest Supervisor Rob MacWhorter.

The first meeting will take place in Brookings 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Harbor High School; the second 11 a.m.-noon Sept. 29 in Agness RV Park event center; and the third is 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 29 in Gold Beach at the Curry County Fairgrounds.

The Cave Junction meeting will be 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Illinois Valley High School.

Eclipse Complex

East of Big Flat, the Eclipse Complex Fire is at 51 percent containment, according to the Inciweb Incident Information System.

For almost two weeks, the fire had been moving southward down the bank of the Smith River, which kept the west edge of the fire from spreading into the Big Flat area.

Meanwhile, crews established bulldozer lines and cleared roads to make contingency lines between the fire and Big Flat.

Ware noted due to recent wetter weather, the majority of the fire has not grown much in the last week.

He said the fire has been divided into separate areas of responsibility and a Type 3 team from Six Rivers National Forest is currently working the fireline nearest Big Flat. Type 3 teams are multi-agency teams employed when fire incidents are expected to take significant time to extinguish.

The fire has currently scorched more than 69,000 acres of heavy timber, old growth and brush. There are 386 firefighters working on the fire.

Officials also say suppression repair is in full operation.

Chris Ware at the information center explained suppression repair is the process where crews repair any damage caused by the fire suppression efforts. He said crews place erosion barriers, smooth over dozer and heavy equipment tracks and block dozer lines so they won’t be used as vehicle roads.

Reach Tony Reed at treed@triplicate.com

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