CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. – Officials are calling it an anomaly as a nearly stagnant Labrador Fire is forcing crews onto the sidelines.
The roughly 2,000-acre fire has barely changed in size in the past week, but containment remains at 0%. Now officials say a shift in strategy could be on the way.
The fire has burned itself into a hole thanks to natural barriers and footprints left behind by the Biscuit Fire. But the Biscuit Fire also left branches brittle and ready to snap off unexpectedly, a hazard that has 83 firefighters and three helicopters on watchdog duty – for now.
“If it was to jump the road and go on the other side of the hill it would initiate a completely new response,” said Incident Commander Monty Edwards.
And now that fire is about to get its first real test. Incident meteorologists say a period of higher winds and lower humidity is expected in the coming days.
“This will give us the opportunity to test a few of those thresholds to see if, say 15-mile an hour winds make it do something, or 20-mile an hour winds make it do something,” said Incident Meteorologist Julia Ruthford.
The weather test, as they call it, will tell them what it will take to wake the fire from its sleep. They say this one will be moderate, but history shows a period of severe winds and lower humidity is all but certain.
“I would say that’s a pretty good bet that we will have another critical weather event or two before the season is done,” said Ruthford.
Officials say because they haven’t had that test yet, they have to keep a lot of resources on hand.
And it will likely stay that way for a while.
“We’re definitely not going to call this tucked away until we can actually feel confident, more than we are now, that it’ll stay in the spot that it’s in,” said Edwards.