Monday, September 14, 2020

Birch Creek Fire burning on the North Fork John Day Ranger District

Contact: Darcy Weseman (541) 278-3722

Sept. 14, 2020 –5 p.m.

 PENDLETON, Ore. – Firefighters are actively suppressing a wildfire west of the junctions of Forest Service Road (FSR) 54 with FSR 5412 and FSR 5411, approximately 12 miles northeast of Ukiah, Oregon on the North Fork John Day Ranger District. 

The Birch Creek Fire, which is currently estimated at 30 acres, was reported on Monday, Sept. 14 at 11:22 a.m. The fire is burning in grass and timber. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The fire is burning to the northeast with active runs, crowning, torching, and spotting with some slow backing growth to the south.  Gusty winds are contributing to increased fire behavior and growth.  Visibility within the area is poor. The movement of the fire has prompted evacuations of individuals camping in Granite Meadows and Pearson Canyon area. Fire crews, with support from the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office, are escorting campers outside the fire area to safety.

All available resources are aiding in initial attack efforts, including support from Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF).  Current resources on scene include two Forest Service engines, two ODF engines, the Umatilla Veterans Crew, and the North Fork John Day hand crew. With the large number of wildfires across the region, resources are stretched thin and currently no aircraft are available to assist with suppression efforts. Additional resources are en route, including dozers, hand crews and engines. 

The Forest will inbrief a local Type 3 Incident Management Team tomorrow at 8 a.m. with plans for the team to take command of the fire tomorrow. An incident command post will be set up in Ukiah. The health and safety of the public and wildland fire responders is top priority and mitigations will be taken regarding group sizes by dispersing resources and conducting virtual meetings when possible.

Visitors traveling in the area are reminded that the northern portion of FSR 54 remains closed due to flood damage. Closure barriers and signs are posted on the ground and visitors can take alternative routes out of the area including Yellowjacket Road (FSR 5412 and FSR 5420), FSR 54 south to Highway 244 and FSR 5427 east to Indian Lake. 

Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week. Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME and public use restrictions involving campfires, chainsaw use, smoking and off-road travel are in effect. 

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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