LAKEVIEW, Ore. — After nearly a week of favorable conditions, firefighters working northwest of Lakeview on the Cougar Peak Fire are making preparations for more intense fire activity. The fire was last estimated at 87,349 acres with containment remaining at 6 percent.
Fire officials said that the Cougar Peak Fire was noticeably more active on Wednesday, with widespread surface fire and occasional tree torching overnight. During the afternoon, aircraft delivered bucket drops to help fire crews on the ground.
Early in the day, fire crews found a "slop-over" of fire across the southeastern lines, and crews worked to halt its advance, containing it at three acres. To the northwest, a heavy equipment group continued to build contingency line.
"The west side of the fire was more active than in days past as the effects of the rain diminish and the fire got more active within contingency lines," fire officials said.
Crews were conducting mop-up and patrol of the fire's northeastern corner, where the fire has been more active than to the extreme north. Helicopters hit areas that have been difficult for ground crews to access.
The eastern side of the fire is plumbed with hoses, and firefighters have been mopping up and extinguishing hot spots alongside that flank of the fire.
"The Team Fire Behavior Analyst is calling today the 'calm before the storm,'" fire officials continued. "Today’s efforts will be the same as yesterday, continuing to strengthen the line with added mop-up depth around the fire. Timber falling teams have been removing many hazard trees. Firefighters remain vigilant watching for fire weakened trees and snags, as they remain a major safety concern, especially with the increase in winds forecasted for Friday and Saturday."
With storm systems heading into the area this weekend, fire officials expect conditions on the Cougar Peak Fire to get worse before they get better — first bringing strong winds from Friday and into Saturday before rain reaches the area by Saturday afternoon.