Saturday, August 6, 2016

Rail Fire Update- Aug. 6, 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016 @ 9 AM

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:    Fire activity increased as predicted when gusty winds fanned the interior of the fire, producing four smoke columns late Friday afternoon. Fuels burned within the interior of the fire and winds drove flames south and east. Crews succeeded in holding the line and also controlling spot fires that jumped ahead of the front. Today crews will focus on extending line south to the Amelia Cr. trailhead, as well as reinforcing existing lines and fuel breaks. Smoke will be visible for several days. Despite brief morning showers, weather will remain unstable, with the possibility of thunderstorms and dry lightning. Plans are in place for addressing these conditions and for potential Initial Attack actions, should lightning spark additional fires.

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: 10,040 acres

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

WEATHER:  High temperatures in the mid-80s, 17-21% humidity, with winds from the north/northwest of 4-8 mph.  Smoke columns can be expected to form again today. A Red Flag Warning remains in effect through Sunday evening for thunderstorms accompanied by dry lightning.

PERSONNEL & RESOURCES: 616 people, 20 crews, 7 dozers, 27 engines, 13 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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