Portions of Hwy. 36 re-open following wildfire

(Photo by Elaine Dotson)

Portions of Highway 36 have re-opened between Highway 126 at Mapleton and
Poodle Creek Road, at milepost 39, following a wildfire that began at about
noon Monday near Deadwood at milepost 13.

A one-lane closure continues today between milepost 14 and 14.5 as fire crews from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) and inmate fire crews from Shutter Creek Correctional Institution continue mopping up hot spots.

Ninety percent of the fire contained, according to ODF public Information Officer Bobbi Doan.

Initial reports are that the fire began when a sweeper machine being used by a road crew contracted by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) for a road sealing project backed into a section of dry grass, accidentally igniting the blaze around 11:30 a.m. Monday.

"It was basically in the timberlands behind the Deadwood Pioneer Cemetery," said Chief Terry Ney with Lane Fire Authority.

A Type 2 helicopter was called in to drop water at the head of the fire as crews from the ODF, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue and Swisshome/Deadwood provided hand crews to work the flanks of the blaze, which spread to approximately 2 acres.

"It mostly spread through the underbrush, which takes time to locate and thoroughly put in these kinds of extreme heat conditions," said Ney, who warned that conditions aren't expected to improve until Wednesday, when light rain is expected to return.

No structures were threatened during the fire.

As of this morning, fire apparatus are still in Deadwood the area, including a water tender for supplying water to wildland firefighters, and a trailer-mounted pump to supply water from the lake to the tender.

Flaggers are controlling traffic and the roadway.

Though the wildfire is under control, travelers should still consider taking alternate routes due to a number of road projects along Highway 36 that will continue through next week.

"Yesterday was a busy day on Highway 36, and the fire was only part of that," said Angela Beers-Seydell of ODOT, who explained there are three projects underway between Deadwood and Greenleaf Bridge that will be causing delays through the week.

Paving is taking place today between Blachly and Triangle Lake, along with chip sealing that will close the eastbound lane just west of Deadwood. Thursday and Friday, paving will continue between Triangle Lake and Blachly Bridge.

"We're hoping to have all lanes open by this weekend," said Beers-Seydell. "Next week, striping will begin, which will again cause slowdowns in the area."

ODOT also plans to replace a culvert at Stage Coach Road, milepost 9, whic is expected to begin Monday and last through the week.

"Travelers should really try to avoid highway 36 for the next week or so," said Beers-Seydell.

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