Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fire update: Howard Meadows Fire

News Release—For Immediate Release
August 15, 2017
Oregon Department of Forestry
Umatilla National Forest

Contacts:  Christie Shaw (ODF), 541-263-0661
         Darcy Weseman (USFS), 541-215-2224

[John Day, Ore.] Firefighters from Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) John Day Unit and the Umatilla National Forest suppressed a fire near Howard Meadows in northern Grant County late Monday afternoon.  The Howard Meadows Fire was sparked by one of the many lightning strikes from last week’s thunderstorms.  Monday’s warm temperatures and afternoon winds fanned smoldering embers into dry fuels, accelerating fire growth.  Burning in grass and open pine, the fire was initially reported at fifteen acres and quickly grew.  Firefighters were able to contain the fire Monday evening at 185 acres.  The fire burned on private land protected by ODF and on the Umatilla National Forest.

The fire was running through the grass and lighter fuels and torching the open grown pine, challenging firefighters to stop the quick moving flame front.  Two helicopters and two Single Engine Air Tankers (SEAT’s) were used to slow the progression and allow firefighters to dig handline and place dozer line around the fire.  John Day Unit Forester Ryan Miller praised firefighter efforts, “Stopping the fire at 185 acres, in these fuel types is a huge success.  We have been doing all we can to stop these new fire starts.” ODF resources responded to two additional fire starts yesterday to protect private lands from wildfire.  Both of these fires were kept under an acre.

In addition to the SEAT’s and helicopters, on the ground resources included six engines from ODF and the Malheur National Forest, one tender, the Umatilla Veterans Crew (20 person), and two dozers.  Firefighters continued to work late into the night and were able to get a dozer line around 95% of the fire.  This morning resources will complete the dozer line, begin mopping up interior heat, and work to secure fireline.

Fire crews continue to patrol and mop up existing fires detected the past few days on Umatilla National Forest lands and lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry.  The public is reminded that fuels remain extremely dry and that the passing thunderstorms did not provide enough moisture to reduce the fire danger.  Some areas did not see any precipitation from the storms and the return to seasonable temperatures quickly dried fuels that did.

Regulated Closure is in effect for lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District.  Year to date for 2017 human caused fires have accounted for forty-four of the seventy-seven fires in the Central Oregon District.  Following Regulated Closure restrictions can reduce ignitions and limit damage to our natural resources including air, water, and soil.  For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District including the Regulated Closure restrictions, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

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