Saturday, August 22, 2020

Umatilla National Forest Lightning Fire Update - Aug. 22, 2020

Contact: Darcy Weseman (541) 278-3722

August 22, 2020 – 11 a.m.

PENDLETON, Ore. – Hot and dry weather conditions challenged firefighters yesterday as they continued to make progress on wildfires caused by the recent thunderstorms. Fire managers expect additional smoke reports will continue to be detected throughout the next few days as weather conditions continue to stay warm and dry.

The Rattlesnake Fire on the Pomeroy Ranger District grew to 60 acres yesterday after making a short uphill run. Hot and dry weather contributed to active fire behavior and smoke was visible for miles. The Rattlesnake Fire is located in steep terrain within the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness approximately 20 miles south of Pomeroy, Washington. The fire is burning within the 2006 Columbia Complex fire scar in grass, brush, snags and timber with dead and down trees. Aerial resources may be used as necessary today to slow fire spread and cool hotspots.  Umatilla National Forest officials are developing options to safely gain access into the fire.  Heavy equipment will arrive today to begin repairs to open Forest Service Road (FSR) 47 (which was damaged in the February flood event) for firefighter access. The Forest will also implement a temporary road, trail and area closure surrounding the Rattlesnake Fire for public safety.

The Putnam Springs Fire on the Heppner Ranger District grew to an estimated 130 acres and is still actively burning, as late afternoon downslope winds continue challenge suppression efforts. Firefighters, aided by aerial resources, focused suppression efforts on protecting the private land and cabin located a half mile to the south of the fire. Additionally, firefighters worked on building containment lines to slow the spread of the fire, which still remains completely on National Forest lands. 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 6 engines, 5 hand crews, 2 skidgines, 2 dozers and 2 water tenders. 

On the Walla Walla Ranger District, the Buzzard Fire was the most active, growing to seven acres in size. The fire was reported on Aug. 19 and is located two miles east of Jubilee Lake. The fire burned to the north yesterday toward Forest Service Road 6413. Firefighters will continue to complete line construction on the fire. Additional resources are anticipated to arrive today to support containment efforts. Visitors traveling in the area are asked to use caution and be aware of increased hazards, particularly fire personnel engaged in suppression efforts or smokey conditions.   

Firefighters made good progress on the Alder Creek Fire, which is now 100% lined. The fire is located near Lookout Mountain, approximately 24 miles northwest of Wallowa, Oregon and is burning in difficult terrain that is hard to access. Suppression efforts were aided yesterday by aircraft to slow the fire’s spread and cool hotspots within the fire perimeter. Today firefighters are strengthening containment lines, where terrain and fuels allow for crews to safely engage.  Resources on scene include four smokejumpers, a five-person crew and one engine.

Firefighters made progress on the Rocky Fire, which is also located on the Heppner Ranger District. The fire is now estimated at 12 acres. Today firefighters will continue to secure control lines and conduct mop up activities on the fire. Mopping up includes searching for pockets of heat, digging out the heat source, and cooling with water.  

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). 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 at 


 Rattlesnake Fire on Aug. 21 at 12 p.m. (left)  and then later that day at 4 p.m. (right)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.