The Pike Road Fire has not expanded its footprint on Tillamook County since Friday morning, Sept. 11, and now is 100 percent contained. The fire started about 10:50 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, in the Pike Road area and the cause remains under investigation.
Steady and strong east winds gusting to more than 40 miles per hour pushed the fire into the Vaughn and Murphy Creek drainages. From Sept. 7-9, the fire grew explosively, and then slowed to a now mapped 301 acres, the largest fire in Tillamook County in the last 40 years. The change in reported acres from 220 to 301 acres is due to more accurate mapping that was just completed.
Fighting the fire began immediately, with available firefighters from all of Tillamook County’s Fire Districts and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Usually a fire of this complexity and size and threatening structures would warrant an outside incident management team and as Ed Wallmark, protection unit forester, remembers it “we would have called an outside team but they just weren’t available so we made up our own and got it done.”
A big part of the success of stopping the Pike Road Fire was utilizing a special Tillamook resource: experienced loggers with heavy equipment. Loggers made themselves available and a coordinated plan was developed by the Department of Forestry that best utilized the capabilities of each piece of equipment. Primary and secondary fire lines were constructed and access routes opened using feller-bunchers, dozers, excavators, with support by transports.
Many of the loggers had never used their heavy equipment before to fight a fire but they were fast learners. At one point there were 31 pieces of equipment working on the fire.
Looking towards the future, crews will still be present in the area with this coming weekend moving to patrol only. This is the time to think about creating a defensible space around your home and other buildings. The Department of Forestry has personnel available for home assessments and can be reached at (503) 842-2545.
Oregon Department of Forestry would like to recognize the business and partners that assisted in the Pike Road Fire last week. While there are company names and agencies listed below, ODF knows each of these partners have individuals behind them from line cooks to deli counters to operators and firefighters to volunteers. Thank you to all that contributed.