"Hay Fire" Halted in oregon

November 8, 2010

A swift interagency response stopped a 3,085 wildfire at KMR from taking root in the neighboring Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Sparked by a motor vehicle on October 14, wind-driven flames made strong runs before firefighters gained control several days later.

Hay Fire officials immediately ordered a Type-3 Incident Management Team to lead the suppression effort. “It was a good call,” said Klamath Basin NWR Fire Management Officer Dave Goheen. “There are always suppression challenges in the marsh, as well as concerns about impacting cultural resources,” he said.

Part of the former Klamath Indian Reservation also sits on the refuge, located about 20 miles north of Chiloquin, Oregon.

“It was a true interagency fire,” said Goheen. Cooperating resources included personnel from the FWS, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Walker Range Forest Protection Agency, and the Chiloquin-Agency Lake Rural Fire Protection District.
Amphibious track-vehicles outfitted with water tanks and pumps, namely the ‘Marsh Master’ swamp buggy, assisted firefighters in navigating difficult terrain on the refuge. “Fire engines would just sink in the marsh,” Goheen said.

Klamath Marsh Refuge consists of 40,000 acres of wet meadows and open-water wetlands.  The land scorched by the Hay Fire is part of an area burned in 2007 by a 7,000-acre prescribed fire.

Conducting prescribed fires every 3-5 years is necessary to maintain the ecological health of the refuge while reducing hazardous fuels accumulation, according to Goheen. Ultimately, the recent wildfire will have positive effects on the refuge. “Without fire, Bull Rush (a native plant species) takes over and can transform wetlands into an ecological desert.”

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Last Updated: 11/08/2010