Monday, August 8, 2016

Rail Fire Morning Update- Aug. 8, 2016

Monday, August 8, 2016 @ 9AM
The Rail Fire started Sunday afternoon, July 31, approximately ten miles southwest of Unity, Oregon.  Northwest Incident Management Team Twelve (NWIMT#12) assumed command of the fire at 6:00 a.m. Monday, August 1.  

NEWS FROM THE FIRELINE:    Yesterday morning thunderstorms impacted the fire area.  Winds pushed down from the cells as they dissipated in the early afternoon.  These winds led to 442 new acres of fire growth.  The main carrier of the fire continues to be beetle killed fuels.  Divisional assignments have been established today to improve existing fire lines and to construct new fire line. Mop-up operations will begin in areas where fire spread is not anticipated to grow any further.  Local officials are pleased with the placement of newly constructed fire line in regards to the protection of natural and significant cultural resources.  Fire managers are expecting the fire to grow at a slow to moderate rate for several days.  Public and firefighter safety along with the protection of private lands continue to be top priorities.

PUBLIC INFORMATION: Public Information Officers will be in the communities of Unity, Prairie City, and Baker today to provide fire updates and answer questions.


SIZE: 10,482 acres

LOCATION:  Approximately 10 miles southwest of Unity, Oregon
VEGETATION TYPE AND TERRAIN:  Grass and timber in moderate and steep terrain

WEATHER:  Breezy northwest winds are anticipated to impact the fire area.  Winds speeds will be 10 to 15 with gusts up to 25 mph.  RH values will be 20 to 30 percent.  Temperatures will increase slightly toady from yesterday.  The high temperature is predicted to be near 80 degrees.  The main factor in the fire behavior will be the winds tomorrow. 

PERSONNEL & RESOURCES: 740 people, 24 crews, 10 dozers, 29 engines, 19 water tenders and 6 helicopters are assigned to the fire.

AGENCIES & COOPERATORS INVOLVED:   Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, Baker County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Services and local residents.

Mary Bean, Incident Information Officer

Incident Information Office Phone: (541) 446-3592

*Note: We have been getting several questions regarding the cause of the Rail Fire, which is still under investigation by law enforcement. There has been no lightning in the area of the South Fork Drainage since the end of June.

The general location of the Rail fire origin has been identified. Many questions and speculations have been circulating that the cause of the fire may be associated with spring under-burning. It is clear the Rail Fire originated outside any past prescribed burn units, in fact the origin was more than 3 miles away from any prescribed burning that was conducted in 2016.
As information from the investigation becomes available, we will share that with the public as soon as possible.

Don't forget! Public Use Restrictions on the Wallowa-Whitman are now in Phase A. Please visit the Forest website for more information.

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