Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Activity remains minimal on Granite Gulch Fire

JOSEPH, Ore. — August 31, 2019 —High clouds and humidity kept the Granite Gulch Fire from spreading much at all Friday, with the most active burning being on the west flank where the fire is backing down the slope into Last Chance drainage.

Today, the firefighters stationed around the perimeter of the fire will rotate out after five 12-hour days of observation duty.

"It is a tough duty sitting on an exposed ridge for 12 hours a day staring at smoke, but they couldn’t have a more beautiful place to do it," Incident Commander Adam Wing said, "With temperatures in the low 30s and highs in the 80s, it can be a harsh environment to live and work exposed on a ridge, yet they all volunteer for another stint."

Each of these firefighters is certified in Fire Effects Monitoring, meaning they have been trained in taking spot weather checks, fire activity observation, collecting before and after photos as the fire moves around, estimating the fire's rate of movement, inventorying the types and amounts of fuels on the ground in unburned areas, and watching each other's backs by warning of changes in weather or fire movement while their colleagues are in the canyon collecting data.

"It's good to have eyes on the ground," said Nathan Goodrich, fire management officer for the Eagle Cap Ranger District. "They can give us a bird's eye view of the canyon and what's happening under the canopy."

In the interests of public safety, an area closure was issued Friday by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest for the area between Rock Creek Trail and Trail Creek Trail which drains into the Minam River, excluding Elk Meadows. The complete closure order, map and updated fire information can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6498/

Although the Granite Gulch Fire started with a lightning strike, Fire managers would like to remind Forest visitors that Phase A Public Use Restrictions are still in place, meaning campfires are limited to established fire pits, be attended at all times and completely extinguished using at least one gallon of water and stirring the ashes with a tool such as a shovel to ensure no coals remain.

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