Five of six wildfires burning in Benton County this weekend appeared to be under control Saturday evening following a flurry of lightning-caused ignitions, Philomath Fire and Rescue reported.
A fire in the Rock Creek Watershed on U.S. Forest Service land on the east side of Marys Peak is one location where crews were continuing to fight for containment. The most-recent update from Siuslaw National Forest officials showed the fire at 15 acres as of Saturday night. Hand crews, water tenders, timber fallers, air assets that included helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and other resources were reportedly at the scene, which was described as being situated on a steep slope in timber.
Philomath Fire and Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Rich Saalsaa said weather conditions, specifically low temperatures, high humidity and less wind, helped slow the spread of the fire. There were no evacuation concerns and there were no structures threatened as of Saturday.
“Crews from the fire are expected to camp out at the rodeo grounds tonight (Sunday), so folks will see some equipment and crews in town as that camp is established,” Saalsaa said, adding that the city arranged to make the space available.
Saalsaa also mentioned that crews on the Rock Creek Fire have been provided with meals from Eats and Treats Cafe.
Elsewhere in Benton County:
• The Starr Creek Fire south of Philomath was fully contained with Oregon Department of Forestry West Oregon District crews performing mop-up duties. The fire was discovered just after noon Friday southwest of the Bellfountain Road-Starr Creek Road area in steep terrain. ODF estimated the fire’s size at 5 acres. Saalsaa said Philomath personnel worked with local landowners to find the fire with ODF and Bureau of Land Management firefighters called in for suppression. No structures were threatened.
• The Marys River Road Fire in the Summit vicinity ignited by a lightning strike late Friday was fully contained Saturday with ODF personnel engaged in mop-up duties. Philomath provided a water tender and a crew to assist Friday night.
• The Tatum Fire in KIngs Valley was fully contained with ODF crews performing mop-up duties Saturday. Philomath Fire and Rescue was among the agencies responding.
• The Honeygrove Fire near Alsea was fully extinguished.
• At last report, the South Mountain Fire near Alsea as of Saturday afternoon had burned 11.5 acres, ODF reported. A fireline was established and firefighters were working to strengthen containment to keep it in the same footprint, Saalsaa said, adding that there were no threats to any structures. ODF planned to continue patrolling over the weekend.
Just outside Benton County in southern Polk County, ODF also responded to the Hatchery Fall Creek Fire, which was approximately 6 acres in size. Officials said Saturday they were working toward 100% mop-up.