Primary fire crews leave as Sweet Creek Fire nears 100 percent containment

The fire has loosened rocks, soil and trees, all falling unpredictably onto Sweet Creek Road, which continues to be closed. (courtesy photo)

Crews will continue monitoring control lines and repair impacts from fire suppression activities

Sept. 9, 2020 — The Sweet Creek Milepost 2 wildfire near Mapleton, which burned more than 350 acres since it first began Aug. 30, surpassed 80 percent containment over the weekend — just in time to avoid this week’s dry and gusty conditions.

On Monday, at 7 a.m., oversight and management of the fire transitioned back from Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Incident Management Team 1 to a smaller type 4 organization. As containment of the fire continues past 80 percent and mop up operations extend nearly 300 feet into the interior of the burn, ODF’s Western Lane District has resumed responsibility for the fire.

For the next several days, crews will continue monitoring control lines and repair impacts from fire suppression activities. As of noon Sunday, all evacuation notices for Sweet Creek Road and Hadsell Creek had been lifted.

Residents and travelers should keep in mind that Sweet Creek Road remains closed between Highway 126 and milepost 3. While the immediate danger from wildfire has passed in that area, significant damage to the hillsides above and below Sweet Creek Road and the falling debris require continued closure for the safety of residents and other road users. 

Lane County Road & Bridge Maintenance will evaluate the condition of Sweet Creek Road during the next few days to determine whether the road can safely reopen. The road is expected to remain closed through at least the end of the next week. In the meantime, a detour has been established via Canary Road. The detour is signed and follows Sweet Creek Road to Forest Service Road #24 to Maple Creek Road to Canary Road, which joins Highway 101 north of Dunes City. 

While most resources have now been released to address other wildfires around Oregon, a small transition team will remain until containment nears 100 percent. In the meantime, heavy fuels and smoldering stumps well inside the fire perimeter will likely continue to produce some smoke until the season’s first rains.

Reflecting on the team’s deployment to the fire, Incident Commander Joe Hessel said, “The Mapleton community has been extremely generous and supportive of our crews. We’d also like to thank the landowners, Lane County and local fire departments for their support of the team.  The great work accomplished before our arrival set the team up for a successful assignment.”

With the change in weather bringing hotter, drier conditions across the state, extreme fire weather continues through Thursday. Currently, the Western Lane District is in extreme fire danger for general public use.