Pole Creek fire: suppression continues, rehabilitation starts

SISTERS, Ore. -- Firefighters were sent to the northwest flank of the Pole Creek fire Saturday to continue wildfire suppression efforts in the rugged terrain of the Willamette National Forest, fire officials said.

Two hotshot ground crews were sent to the region to mop up the northern region, which still has a large amount of ground fuel. Fire Information official Ken Malgren said that with firefighters around the region getting the upper hand on wildfires, there are now free resources that can devote attention to the Pole Creek suppression effort.

A helicopter is being sent to the area to provide aerial support while ground crews work to strengthen the northwest perimeter.

On the east flank of the fire, crews are working to stockpile wood and brush chips that will eventually be spread over the burned area to stop soil erosion.

"It's important to get material on the slopes before it rains," Pole Creek Incident Commander John Erwert said.

A similar rehabilitation has been underway around the suppression lines at the south end of the over 26,000 acre (or 40 square mile) fire.

The fire was listed as 85% contained on Sunday and Malgren said that crews predict to have the fire fully contained by October 15th. As for a full control over the blaze, Malgren said that only the winter rains and snow in the region can snuff the fire out enough to have fire crews safely extinguish the blaze.

The pre-evacuation notice for residents living in the area was lifted last week, yet the areas directly around the fire are still restricted to fire personnel only.