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CHILOQUIN, Ore. —
UPDATE: The Bray Mill Fire near Chiloquin is 100% contained as of Friday afternoon at 1pm. The fire grew to be 405 acres.
(Updated 5/4/19 at 10:00 a.m.)
UPDATE: Firefighters expect to have the Bray Mill Fire near Chiloquin fully contained by 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon, according to the latest update from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The burn area has not grown beyond 405 acres.
"There were no significant changes overnight and firefighters were aided by good relative humidity recovery," USFS said.
Officials cautioned that smoke will still be visible throughout the weekend as pockets of fuel and stump holes within the containment area continue to burn. Traffic from fire crews could continue through the weekend on Sprage River Hwy and Williamson River Rd.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
(Updated 5/3/19 at 11 a.m.)
UPDATE: By Thursday evening, federal fire officials estimated that firefighters had reached 75 percent containment on the Bray Mill Fire just four mile northeast of Chiloquin — representing a herculean acheivement from Wednesday, but meaning that the fire will not be fully contained until Friday.
"Full containment has been pushed back to midday tomorrow as firefighters take their time to ensure containment lines hold. Mop-up activities have also started," USFS said in a statement.
The agency said that locals might notice an influx of fire traffic on Sprague River Highway and Williamson River Road outside of Chiloquin as work on the wildfire continues.
"Public and firefighter safety continues to be the highest priority," USFS said. "Fire managers ask the public to avoid the area as firefighting operations continue."
The fire's cause remains under investigation at this time.
(Updated 5/2/19 at 5:30 p.m.)
INITIAL REPORT: Fire officials have confirmed to NewsWatch 12 that the Bray Mill Fire northeast of Chiloquin now covers roughly 405 acres, but the fire's forward progress has been halted.
Firefighters worked through the night to achieve some containment of the fire, which is now estimated at 25 percent. Crews are beginning mop-up in some areas while they work to finish containing the wildfire, which they expect to achieve by Thursday night.
The Bray Mill Fire has been burning about four miles northeast of Chiloquin near Fremont-Winema National Forest land, and was reported on Wednesday around 3 p.m.
The Winema and Lakeview Interagency Hotshot crews worked with four fire engines, two dozers and a water-tender to attack the fire from Wednesday afternoon and into the night, with help from the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Chiloquin Rural Fire Protection District.
"Firefighters were able to use previous hazardous fuel reduction and forest restoration projects in the area to safely and effectively make progress containing the fire," the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) said.
The fire's cause remains under investigation, but federal forestry officials said that it was not associated with the "North 2" prescribed burn last week, which was conducted about 4 miles from the Bray Mill Fire's point of origin.
"With the snow melting and things starting to dry out, every day brings increased risk of wildfire and brings the Forest closer to fire season," USFS said. "Spring in the area also brings variable temperatures, increased winds and conditions that can help fire spread rapidly."
Examining the burn area, USFS officials called it a "mosaic fire effect" — showing a mix of dead winter fuel that burned quickly, interspersed with new spring greenery that survived the flames. The effect is similar to historical forest fires, where the flames would work to reduce future fire risk without wiping out vegetation altogether. Many of the trees in the area are ponderosa pine, which have thick bark, resistant to fire.
Visitors to the forest are asked to be careful with fire or anything that can throw a spark. Campfires should never be left unattended, and should be "dead" before visitors leave, USFS said. This means that the fire is doused with water, stirred and judged cold to the touch with no warm spots.