Update, 10:57 p.m. – Monday evening, crews gained ground on the Milepost 97 Fire achieving 15% containment. They said 9 firefighters have been injured. Some 586 structures remained threatened. Going into the evening, evacuations level remained the same. More than 1,300 personnel are working to stop the flames.
DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. — Fire crews hoped to take advantage of a change in weather as they got a bit more containment on the Milepost 97 Fire Monday.
As of Monday morning, the fire was just over 11,600 acres and 10 percent contained. More than 1,000 firefighters were fighting the flames that are threatening nearly 600 homes.
“Our crews are really going heavy in the direct attack where they can,” said Oregon Department of Forestry Public Information Officer Al De Vos. “Yesterday we had over 30 miles of hose laid out on the fire, and tonight we’re gonna be getting a lot more of that and today.”
As the fire grows, crews were working against the elements until the humidity increased.”It’s the best day due to the weather,” said ODF Squad Boss Thaddeus King on Monday. “I mean we haven’t really had much of the extreme heat. The winds haven’t been like on the high scale of over 20 miles per hour so that’s a big bonus for us that we can actually have a little bit to work with.”
Higher humidity from the pacific is helping firefighters stop the spread of flames. It’s one of the many challenges they face, and while the weather is changing many of those challenges still remain—like the rugged terrain.
“What we deal with on this one is mainly just trying to get our guys in,” King said. “Once they’re in, we can work with the hose lays.” Crews have to climb up steep hills with nothing but a piece of rope tied to a tree stump, then trying to put out hot spots.
“We’re really working hard with this good weather to try and get this thing wrapped up,” De Vos said.
No matter the challenge, firefighters said they’re up to it. “Having all the support that we do, I mean it’s not really one person doing the whole thing,” King said, “between everybody in the combined it makes it that much easier for all of us.”
ODF said the safety of their firefighters and the public is their biggest concern.
Nicole Costantino is a reporter and weather forecaster for NBC5 News. She comes to us from Phoenix, Arizona where she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She also received a minor in Meteorology.
Before coming to NBC5 News Nicole was an anchor, weathercaster and reporter at KAET in Phoenix, AZ. In college, she interned for CBS Evening News in New York City and the NBC4 Investigative Team in Los Angeles.
In her free time, you can find Nicole cheering on her Sun Devils and exploring the Pacific Northwest. Feel free to send story ideas and chocolate chip cookie recipes to her on Facebook (@NicoleCostantino) or Twitter (@NicCostantino).