MERLIN, Ore. – Supplies were packed up and information was passed on at the Big Windy Complex Monday afternoon as the Oregon Department of Forestry is set to take over on Tuesday morning.
“Because of that rain, the changing conditions, we were able to collapse the perimeter and make it a little bit more manageable for a smaller organization and the Oregon Department of Forestry felt they were rested and ready to go to take that back over,” Big Windy Incident Commander Tony Wilder.
The fire has been burning since July 26th but now, at 85% containment, ODF feels comfortable taking over the finals stages of the fire. Big Windy officials say the transition has less to due with containment levels and more with when local agencies feel they are ready.
“Sometimes it can be in the 70′s or low 80′s, sometimes it’s in the 90′s, sometimes it’s fully contained when we hand it over. It really depends on the dialogue between the agencies that will be left behind when the teams leave, their comfort level,” said Big Windy Public Information Officer, Jennifer Rabuck.
At one point more than a thousand fire crew members were stationed at the Big Windy camp. Beginning Tuesday, 100 local crew members will fight the battle but won’t spending nights in tents. Officials spent Monday seeing the fire lines first hand.
“They haven’t been on this fire, or they’ve been off for a couple of weeks and so there’s a re-learning process, so we introduce them to the crews out there, introduce them back to the terrain show them what’s been going on since they were last here or if they’re just coming in,” said Wilder.