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Ochoco National Forest campfire and woodcutting restrictions have been lifted

PHOTO BY OCHOCO NATIONAL FOREST - Snow was a welcome sight on the Desolation fire containment lines on Tuesday morning.

Mother Nature pitched in this past week to help firefighters make progress on helping extinguish the Desolation fire on Ochoco National Forest.

The fire was ignited in the Mill Creek Wilderness by lightning on Sept. 6. However, it was not discovered until three days later because of wildfire smoke from other fires hiding the blaze. According to Public Affairs Specialist Patrick Lair, the fire had reached 4,512 acres Wednesday and was 25 percent contained.

"The fire received substantial rain and snow, which means it's unlikely to move but is not entirely out," Lair said Wednesday. "There are 185 firefighters assigned to the fire today, but they will start demobilizing those resources Thursday."

Work Tuesday and Wednesday primarily focused on mop-up along containment lines near U.S. Highway 26 and continued improvement of fuel breaks along Forest Road 27.

"The area closure for Mill Creek Wilderness and up to Forest Roads 27, 2730 and 2745 remains in effect for the time being," Lair added, "although all public use restrictions have been dropped and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level has gone back to IFPL 2."

This means that personal firewood cutting is again allowed between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m.

For the reduction in Public Use Restrictions, open fires, including charcoal fires, will be allowed. Some federal sites still have campfire restrictions.

Some work will remain through the fall to rehabilitate the dozer line, monitor the fire until it's completely out, and then do a quick post-fire assessment for any emergency stabilization needed to protect watersheds from heavy run off and sedimentation or new weed infestations.

"Overall, between the Belknap fire and the Desolation fire, there has been a lot of good fuels treatments accomplished along Highway 26 and along Forest Road 27," Lair said.

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