Two planes tapped to fight Game Hog Creek Fire after two helicopters grounded

Efforts to fight the Game Hog Creek Fire burning in the Tillamook State Forest have hit a snag today, with two of three helicopters expected to fight the fire knocked out of commission by mechanical problems Saturday morning. 

Now, the Oregon Department of Forestry is scrambling to get additional air support in the form of two single engine air tanker that can scoop water from Hagg Lake to dump on the flames. 

With the two helicopters unusable until they can be repaired, that leaves currently one smaller helicopter — considered a “Type 2” helicopter — still in use at the fire. 

“We’re still trying to stop the fire in the canyon, and we really need air support,” said ODF Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata in a phone call Saturday morning with this publication. 

The two planes, inbound from ODF’s The Dalles unit, will provide a much-needed tool to fight the fire, scooping loads of 800 gallons at a time to drop on the fire. The planes will be working the fire for two hours each, Cafferata said.

A Chinook helicopter already in use at the fire suffered a transmission problem, Cafferata said, while a Black Hawk helicopter that was scheduled to join fire crews at the Game Hog Creek Fire suffered electrical problems. An estimate on when repairs could be completed was not known for either helicopter.

Cafferata said that the fire has likely grown a couple of acres from the last count of 133 acres, but that the growth is all in the north end of the hard-to-reach canyon where Elk Creek runs through. The Oregon Department of Forestry confirmed that the fire had grown to about 135 acres in a press release.

“All water access to Hagg Lake is now closed to allow a firefighting plane to pick up water for the Game Hog Creek Fire,” the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said in a tweet just before 11 a.m. Saturday. 

Scoggins Valley Park surrounding the lake remains open.

Previous fire updates here.

This story has been updated with additional information and to correct a quote from ODF’s Mike Cafferata.