Elgin, Ore. – Firefighters rallied last night and today with heavy equipment to establish a direct fire line along the southern perimeter of the Grizzly Bear Complex Fire. Yesterday the fire burned approximately 200 acres outside of the containment line. Crews quickly constructed a fire line around the spot fire. Firefighters continue to mop it up along with another nearby smaller spot. Two heavy helicopters worked to cool down the fire so that firefighters could construct the fire line close to the head of the fire.
Today, indirect containment lines along the north and northeast perimeter (outside of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness) are holding. Firefighters there are mopping up and scouting for additional indirect fire line locations along Saddle Creek. One hand crew is working to construct direct line on the northwest edge of the small Bear Ridge Fire which is burning two miles north of the main Complex.
Crews continue to prepare the area around structures in the Godman and Slick Ear inholdings. A fire-resistant gel is also being applied on the structures to protect them from the fire.
Fire behavior today was driven by dry fuels, high temperatures and low humidity. An infrared flight last night showed the hottest areas to be along the northwest perimeter, east of the Bluewood Ski Area, the north perimeter south of Crooked Creek, the northeast perimeter along Slide Canyon and the southern perimeter where the fire burned over containment lines.
Tomorrow, increased cloud cover should help to reduce solar heating and may bring very light precipitation. On Saturday, winds are expected to shift from the south to west, bringing 30-35 mile per hour winds later in the day and potential lightning. Temperatures are expected to drop sharply and humidity to rise. Cooler than normal temperatures will prevail for the rest of the week with wetting rain predicted for Wednesday.
There were several reports of private vehicles on closed roads in the southern portion of the Complex. Fire managers ask the public to please refrain from entering the area through road closures. Unofficial traffic poses a hazard to firefighters and heavy equipment traveling along the roads. An official Area Closure has been issued for the fire area. Maps and descriptions of the closure can be found on Inciweb or the Washington Interagency Incident Management Team #4 web site.
No changes in the current Evacuation Levels are planned until after heavy winds test fire lines on Saturday. Fire officials may consider reducing the levels on Sunday if lines successfully hold the fire. A public meeting was held in Dayton, Wash., at 7 p.m. this evening at the Seneca Activity Center. More than 100 people attended the meeting.