MERLIN, Ore. – Officials with the Department of Forestry say two fires, the Big Windy and Brimstone fires Northwest of Merlin, are demanding much of their attention, but only one of the two is receiving resources.
The 1500-acre Big Windy fire is being called one of the most problematic because of its remote location, but it’s exactly because of its location that the firefight there has been put on hold.
Instead, ODF sent nearly all available resources to the Brimstone fire, which despite its relatively small size at around 200-acres, continues to grow.
“The wind is playing a huge factor in the fire growth and spread. That’s been our worst battle,” said Division Supervisor Jesse Smart.
Over 220 firefighters and three helicopters worked to create a line around the fire.
But poor visibility prevented air tankers from joining the fight. And the conditions are changing erratically.
“If fire activity gets too bad to where we have to pull out for a little while and re-assess, change strategies and tactics, we will do so,” said Smart.
Officials atop the chain of command say their strategy is equally fluid.
While Big Windy looms large overhead, but right now it’s too inaccessible. They say they have to look at immediate need.
“Priority goes toward protecting life and property, life and property is less of an issue with Big Windy,” said ODF Fire Prevention Specialist Brian Ballou.
As resources were stretched across the smaller, closer fires, federal teams get ready to take the lead on Big Windy.
At this point, crews both on the ground and in command say it’s too soon to gauge progress, but time is not an ally.
“Nobody wants to see this thing turn into another Biscuit Fire,” said Ballou. “The opportunity is there in order to keep the fire of manageable size, but the window is narrow.”