Senator Merkley visits Cedar Creek Fire command center

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley visited the Cedar Creek Fire
Incident Command Center Friday.

Merkley noted that Labor Day, 2020 reset Oregonian’s
understanding of wildfires. He spoke after touring the wildland firefighting
headquarters in Dexter, saying, “I’m really struck compared to a couple years
ago at the continuously enhanced level of equipment and organization for these
camps. I guess it’s a reflection of how many big fires we’ve had that the
logistics seem to get more and more developed.”

Merkley said wildfire smoke is an increasing concern. The
Democrat said he’s working on several bills to mitigate the effects of smoke,
two of which have had committee hearings. Merkley recently joined with Montana
Republican Senator Steve Daines to introduce a bill that would expand training
for the next generation of firefighters through Civilian Conservation Center
Job Corps programs.

The next several days of weather look favorable for
firefighters on the Cedar Creek fire. But cloud cover has kept infrared
equipment from seeing the current shape of the burn.

At the incident command center in Dexter, Operations Chief
James Osborne told KLCC that looking only at acreage and containment numbers
can be confusing. “It’s a really challenging landscape,” he said.
“None of the ridges or the roads, or any sort of those features that we
would normally tie together, actually line up. That being said, we on this fire
are really looking at meeting objectives in terms of managing and hitting that
containment percentage. That doesn’t reflect in our standard system, if you

Osborne said people should not think that “zero percent
containment” means the fire is out of control. He said they focus on protecting
population centers like Oakridge and Westfir, as well as recreational and
natural resource areas. He said people should expect to see acreage numbers go
up in the next few days, but that containment levels will increase over time.