Sunday, October 2, 2016

Minam Fire Update

Minam Fire Update – Sunday, October 2nd

Katy Gray – 

JOSEPH, OR – On Saturday, October 1st, Fire Managers declared the Minam Prescribe Burn as a Wildfire following a thunderstorm that moved across Northeast Oregon the evening prior. The fire, 17 miles West of Joseph, Oregon is currently 750 acres in size and is being managed by a small Type 3 Incident Management Team lead by Nathan Goodrich. Resources include two Interagency Hot Shot Crews and one Type 1 Helicopter and one Type 3 Helicopter.
Firefighters initiated the Minam 4 Prescribe Burn on Thursday, September 29th using Helicopter ignition due to challenges access the planned prescribe burn area. This prescribed burn unit was approximately 2,000 acres in size, located on the east side of Big Sheep Ridge, and Southeast 6 miles along the Minam River and was a continuation of previous prescribe burning activities in the Minam drainage within the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area.
The prescribe burn was planned as an early fall ignition to take advantage dry fuel conditions and anticipated cooler weather with precipitation in the forecast. The conditions were ideal to help managers meet their objectives of reducing heavy down and decadent fuels.
A crew from the Wallowa Mountain Zone hiked into the prescribe fire area on Friday, September 30th to check the status of the fire and observed the burn to be meeting management objects and staying within prescription area. During a helicopter flight to check the status of the fire from the air late Friday afternoon, fire managers identified a spot fire east of the burn area across Trout Creek. Due to the time of day, it was determined to firefighters could not safely access the spot fire until the following day.
Early Saturday morning brought a strong thunderstorm across Northeast Oregon, producing higher than expected winds in the planned burn area with very little moisture. As planned, firefighters hiked into the spot fire on Saturday, October 1st and found that these winds allowed the spot fire to spread to the east, upslope onto Cougar Ridge, South of Division Gulch and ultimately outside of the prescribed burn area.
The Minam Fire was declared late on Saturday, October 1st, when fire managers identified that they would not be able to contain the fire spread outside of the planned perimeter within the next 24 hours, which is a criteria of prescribe burning.
Cooler weather kept the spread of the fire minimal into Sunday as additional crews and aircraft arrived on scene to support suppression efforts. Weather forecasts indicate an increased chance of precipitation over the next 3-4 days which will assist firefighters in containment efforts and help slow the spread.
Smoke from the Minam Fire will have moderate impacts to air quality in the Wallowa and Grande Ronde Valleys over the next couple of days.
Updated information on the Minam Fire will be available on the Forest Website, Social Media accounts and InciWeb.

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