Monday, August 20, 2018

Umatilla National Forest: Fire crews respond to new ignitions following abundant lightning

News Contact: Darcy Weseman, 541-278-3722
Aug. 20, 2018 - 8:50 p.m.

PENDLETON, Ore. - Fire crews on the Umatilla National Forest are responding to new smoke reports following passing thunderstorms Sunday evening and Monday morning. Significant lightning activity occurred across the entire forest, with approximately four new incidents on the Umatilla National Forest reported to the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center (BMIDC) and John Day Interagency Dispatch Center (JDIDC). More smoke reports are expected throughout the next few days as the heavy smoke in the area lifts and weather conditions improve.
Local initial attack resources have been busy responding to these incidents. With the limited visibility due to the heavy smoke in the area, fire detection has been a challenge. Fire managers have used thermal detection through a software program called MODIS and infrared detection from a National Guard aircraft to help identify new fires. The use of aerial resources for suppression efforts has been hampered due to the heavy smoke that has settled into the area.
The largest of these fires, the Gilman Fire, is approximately 1,500 acres in size near Gilman Flats on the Heppner Ranger District. The fire is burning on both Umatilla National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands. The fire was reported at 6:19 p.m. and is burning in primarily grass with some timber. One Umatilla National Forest engine and one Oregon Department of Forestry engine are on scene. A Type 3 team will take command of the fire tomorrow at 7 a.m.
The Cupper Canyon Fire is located on the Heppner Ranger District approximately 4 miles NW of Monument, Oregon. The fire was reported at 12:37 p.m. and is burning in grass, brush and timber. The 50-acre fire threatens a structure approximately one half of a mile away. With assistance from the Oregon Department of Forestry, fire crews have the fire currently 60% lined. Resources on scene include one helicopter, two Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), three Oregon Department of Forestry engines, one Umatilla National Forest engine and one hand crew.
The Low Ridge Fire consists of two fires located within the Mill Creek Watershed near Indian Ridge approximately 17 miles SE of Walla Walla, Washington on the Walla Walla Ranger District. The fires were reported at 4:53 p.m., burning in grass and timber. One fire is less than an acre in size and fully lined. The second fire is approximately 2 acres and firefighters are evaluating the fire to begin suppression actions this evening. Containment efforts will continue in the morning. The fires are staffed by five smokejumpers with two engines and a 10-person hand crew en route. 
Additional thunderstorms are forecasted for Wednesday afternoon. Air quality is expected to be at unhealthy levels over the next few days.
Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME and Public Use Restrictions involving campfires and chainsaw use are in effect.
Similar restrictions may be in effect on State and private lands protected by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (WA-DNR).  More information can be found on the WA-DNR website at:  
For more information regarding Restrictions, please contact:
Umatilla National Forest:
Information Hotline: Toll-Free (877) 958-9663
Twitter: @UmatillaNF

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

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