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What Kept The Knoll Fire From Repeating A More Calamitous McKenzie River Incident

Brian Bull

When first reported in early August, the Knoll Fire brought an ominous sense of déjà vu to McKenzie River Residents.  But several factors kept the incident from becoming as destructive as last year’s Holiday Farm Fire.

Standing on the banks of the McKenzie River, Darren Cross pointed across the waters to dark and ashy spots where the Knoll Fire burned.  The acting deputy supervisor of the Willamette National Forest told KLCC that when the lightning-caused fire began, there were immediate barriers helping crews.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Darren Cross, acting deputy supervisor for the Willamette National Forest, at Ollallie Campground off the McKenzie River.

"We had very little line construction, we were able to use roads and rivers," said Cross. "Here we had Deer Creek and the McKenzie River as those control features.

"And then used control fire, using backfires to remove some fuels in a methodical way and kept the fire within those boundary lines.”

Cross added that the Holiday Farm Fire was an east-wind event with low humidity, whereas the Knoll Fire was more typical. Dozens of personnel took just a week to contain  the 544-acre incident; now it’s in the mop-up and patrol phase.

Copyright 2021, KLCC. 

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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