Friday, August 21, 2020

Umatilla National Forest Lightning Fire Update

Contact: Darcy Weseman (541) 278-3722

August 21, 2020 – 9 a.m.

 Type 2 Team takes command of Meacham Complex, Putnam Springs Fire grows due to wind

PENDLETON, Ore. – Firefighters continue to make progress on wildfires caused by the recent thunderstorms. As expected, new smoke reports continue to be discovered and fire managers expect more throughout the next few days as weather conditions continue to stay warm and dry.

The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team (IMT) 3 took command of the Meacham Complex (formerly named Hager Complex) at 6 a.m. today. Future information regarding all fires within that incident will be distributed through the IMT and posted on Inciweb at

The Walla Walla Ranger District picked up one new start yesterday and firefighters staffed numerous other fires from the recent lightning. The Alder Creek Fire was the most active, growing to 12 acres in size. The fire was reported on Aug. 19 and is located near Lookout Mountain, approximately 24 miles northwest of Wallowa, Oregon. The fire is burning in difficult terrain that is hard to access. Suppression efforts were aided yesterday by aircraft to slow the fire’s spread. Today firefighters will continue to complete line construction, where terrain and fuels allow for crews to safely engage, while utilizing aircraft to slow fire spread and cool hotspots within the fire perimeter. Resources on scene include four smokejumpers and a five-person crew.

On the Heppner Ranger District, the Putnam Springs Fire, is now estimated at 110 acres and is still actively burning to the south and east, threatening adjacent private land and a nearby structure. Yesterday’s fire behavior consisted of active fire runs, spotting and torching as late afternoon downslope winds pushed the fire south. Firefighters, aided by aerial resources, focused suppression efforts on protecting the values at risk and establishing containment lines to slow the spread of the fire. Today firefighters will continue to complete line construction, where terrain and fuels allow for crews to safely engage, while utilizing aircraft to slow fire spread and cool hotspots within the fire perimeter. Current resources on scene include 2 engines, 1 20-person hand crew, 2 skidgines, two dozers and 2 water tenders. Additional resources are on order. A local Type 3 incident commander out of John Day, Oregon, took command of the fire yesterday at 9 p.m.

Firefighters made progress on the Rocky Fire, which is also located on the Heppner Ranger District. The fire jumped the fire line yesterday and grew to six acres, but firefighters successfully stopped the fire spread. The Rocky Fire is 100% lined.  Fire crews are continuing mop up today and securing containment lines.  

The Pomeroy Ranger District reported two new ignitions. Firefighters staffed both fires at less than a quarter of an acre in size. The Rattlesnake Fire had minimal spread and is still estimated at five acres. The fire is located 20 miles south of Pomeroy, Washington in rugged terrain. Access to this fire is limited due to flood damage within the Tucannon watershed. Firefighters were able to monitor the fire yesterday while they continue to work on safely gaining access into the fire.

The North Fork John Day Ranger District had no new fires reported today, but crews continue to patrol and mop up hot spots on existing fires.

Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week. Increased winds are anticipated again today. Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at HIGH and Public Use Restrictions involving chainsaw use are in effect. 

Regulated closures have also been implemented on State and private lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) in northeast and central Oregon. Similar restrictions may be in effect on State and private lands protected by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR).  

For more information regarding Restrictions, please contact the Umatilla National Forest information hotline at (877) 958-9663.  The latest fire information will be posted on the Blue Mountains Fire Information Blog. To receive updates on fires in the Blue Mountains, follow our blog at 


Putnam Springs Fire, taken Aug. 19

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