Shawn Sheldon, Incident Commander
Rail Fire Update
August 18, 2016
The southern portion of the Rail Fire began burning intensely at about noon on Wednesday, forcing the firefighters to accelerate their burn-out operation from the north and producing towering pyro-cumulus clouds. Before the burnout operation was able to reach the south end, however, the fire had spotted across the primary control line and become established at 75 acres near Elk Flats. That spot fire has been lined, but it caused the fire crews to cease the burnout operation and work more intensely on holding the spot fire in check.
Several small spot fires associated with the burnout operation were extinguished by firefighters. Air Operations Branch Director Rob Budge said, “Several spot fires were slowed with the use of helicopters and air tankers to the point crews could catch them. Our air attack made every effort to protect the investment previously made in establishing the lines.”
Budge expressed appreciation for the interagency cooperation exhibited by Oregon Department of Forestry in sharing its John Day based Type 2 helicopter.
Firefighters burned out the fuels around the Elkhorn communications site several days ago, and Wednesday when the fire came up the hill, the site was saved.
Smoke from the fire blocked the afternoon sun and lowered the temperature as far away as Baker City.
For information on expected smoke conditions and suggested appropriate actions, please visit www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.
Fire at a Glance
Size: 28,209 acres
Location: 5 miles west of Unity, Oregon
Cause: Under Investigation
29 Water tenders
4 Type 1 heavy helicopters
1 Type 2 medium helicopter
2 Type 3 light helicopter
The fire area and multiple roads are closed. The current closure order can be found on Inciweb (see below).
(Click “Maps” for the closure map)