North Bank Lane fire

Charred trees line Stargazer Lane off North Bank Lane where a fire burned more than 300 acres Tuesday and Wednesday.

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BANDON — The North Bank Lane fire is 60% contained with no new growth, the Coos Fire Protective Association announced Monday morning. The fire that started Tuesday morning, Sept. 7, burned 350 acres and hasn't grown in size since last Wednesday.

The fire remains under investigation, though witnesses say it started from a downed power line during high winds and low humidity that morning.

No homes were lost, but a yurt that housed a woodworking and art studio burned to the ground and the roof of a barn was damaged, according to officials.

The weather continues to be favorable with little to no winds and humidity recovered to normal levels, CFPA announced Monday. A full force of firefighters is on the fire working toward 100% containment and removing and minimizing hazards. North Bank Lane remains closed.

Two 20-person contracted crews, one 10-person crew from Shutter Creek Correctional Institution and a CFPA district six-person hand crew continue working the fire, according to CFPA office manager Dominique Ray, acting PIO. CFPA PIO Jef Chase is working the fire, as is CFPA District Manager Mike Robison. Three 20-person crews were released over the weekend to fight the Holiday Fire east of Eugene. 

Ray said there also are three water tenders and an excavator being used to complete containment lines, which are on contract through an industry agreement. A CFPA contracted type III (light) helicopter is also available and on standby if needed, but as of Monday morning was unable to fly in the area due to smoke and fog. The other helicopters and operators that were fighting the North Bank Lane fire have been released to another fire, Ray said.

Ray added that CFPA will reevaluate the fire today to determine a timeline for 100% containment. 

"They will take a good look and see if where they are and if it's OK to open the road," Ray said.

The fire was reported at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7, approximately 8 miles northeast of Bandon between Bandon and Coquille, destroying the yurt on the property of Candace Kreitlow and Pete Bauer, threatening homes and causing a number of people to be evacuated or self-evacuating.

The conditions that day were reminiscent of the Bandon Fire of 1936: hot (it reportedly reached 95 degrees in town), strong east winds and low humidity. 

Since the fire was in the county, it was under the direction of the Coos Forest Protective Association, with assistance from a crew of Bandon firefighters, and trucks and crews from most fire departments in the county, large and small.

Bandon Fire Chief Lanny Boston said it was a humbling experience and he learned a lot about wildland fires that morning.

"It blew up, and in four hours, it had grown to 300 acres," Boston said. "It was a good learning experience for everyone, including me. I've never quite seen what I saw out there that morning."

He said it was even harder to fight than gorse would have been, because most gorse is on flat terrain, but this fire burned up the hill and into the canyons, which made it more difficult to battle, even though gorse burns hotter.

He said the outcome could have been much different had it not been for the helicopters who arrived on scene.

"They were able to see from the air where the fire was spreading and could drop water where it was needed. If we had not had the air support, it could have gone clear to the sea," said Boston, explaining that it could have traveled down the river and out to the ocean in the vicinity of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort and Bullards Beach State Park.

He credited the homeowners as part of the reason that no homes burned.

"They had done a good job of maintaining that defensible space around their homes, keeping brush away, and they did not have cedar shakes for siding or cedar roofs," said Boston, who has been chief of the local department for 45 years.

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