Fire Highlights - Miller Homestead Fire in SE Oregon - July 2012
Project Leader , Tim Bodeen wrote:
On July 12, 2012, the Miller Homestead Fire had the ideal atmospheric conditions to roar across the landscape and onto Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The wind driven fire burned through Refuge lands west of Oregon State Highway 205, then jumped the road onto Refuge lands to the east. Approximately 1000 acres of Refuge lands were impacted before fire suppression activities stopped the fire’s advance.
The fire ignited the dry peat soils in the Refuge’s Lincoln and Bailey meadows that still continue to burn some 9”-20” below the ground’s surface with about 150 acres having subsurface smoldering hot spots and new hot spots popping to the surface from peat fires below. The Refuge is working with Type 2 Incident Command Team to address the stubborn and actively moving subsurface peat fires. Suppression activities include removing the field’s vegetation by haying and scanning the area with infrared camera device to identify hot spots.
Otherwise the vegetation killed and dried out by the moving subsurface peat fires will eventually ignite to start another wild fire. Once the vegetation is removed a 3-mile perimeter trench will be dug down to a 48” depth and saturated with water to stop the peat fire from moving beyond the area. The Lincoln and Bailey fields will be flooded with water pumped from our West Canal. So we are diverting as much of the Refuge water resources as we possibly can to West Canal while maintaining the necessary minimum flows in East Canal and Blitzen River. These stubborn peat fires may continue to burn for weeks or months and will require constant observation and suppression.
1. Smoke column behind helicopter from the Miller Homestead fire as it moved down an east facing slope toward Hwy 205 S at milepost 55. Image Credit: Candy Tiller