Crews battle four area wildfires

·3 min read

Sep. 10—Evacuation orders remain in place for Orogrande residents, where the Williams Creek Fire, located 5 miles west of the community, was listed at 11,881 acres Friday with 0% containment.

The larger size of the fire, according to the fire management team, was a result of better mapping Thursday night.

"Aerial supervision was over the fire all day, providing continuous coverage, managing the airspace, directing helicopters, and prioritizing locations for water bucket drops," said Wendy Dumke, information officer for the Williams Creek and Twin Lakes fires.

"Three large helicopters dropped water on hot spots, assisting the ground crews in mopping up areas of residual heat. Last night, hotshot crews completed small-scale burnout operations behind structures on the west side of Orogrande, eliminating unburned fuels and securing the properties."

Dumke said the fire and gusty winds Thursday damaged some structures and outbuildings in the area. Crews are still assessing the situation. Fallen trees, burned snags and downed power lines also are presenting safety hazards.

Twin Lakes Fire

The Twin Lakes Fire, 23 miles southwest of Elk City, is listed at 924 acres with 0% containment.

Dumke said the fire was moderately active Thursday, mainly on the northern flank. Helicopters dropped water, assisting ground crews, for one fuel cycle. Firefighters have completed structure protection measures at Square Mountain Lookout and continue to monitor fire behavior and fuels conditions.

Cool and stable air will remain over the fire areas over the weekend with an inversion acting as a cap to limit venting. Overnight temperatures are expected to be below freezing, which should keep fire behavior relatively subdued.

Jones Creek Fire

The Jones Creek Fire is burning east of the Snake River on public lands administered by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, about 7 miles north of Pittsburg Landing.

It was reported Sept. 4 and the cause is under investigation. Northwest Team 7 assumed command of the fire Thursday.

Firefighters have been able to slow the progression of the Jones Creek Fires and limit impact to property in the area.

The fire has burned to the Snake River along the western edge.

Along with the much larger Double Creek Fire burning west of the Snake River, these fires periodically have filled the Snake River Canyon with smoke. There is no immediate threat to river travel or boating facilities. River users are asked to remain aware of the status of both fires.

Homes in the Getta Creek and Deer Creek areas remain in a Level 1 "Get Ready" status.

Prospect Fire

The Prospect Fire, located 8 miles north of Harvard, is at 285 acres and 5% contained.

Fire crews are mopping up the interior of the fire and extinguishing hot spots. Although fire behavior has been minimal over the past several days, a wind shift is forecast from the east with gusts as fast as 30 mph that may increase fire behavior and test control lines on the west side of the fire for the first time.

Currently, there are no road or area closures but caution when driving near the fire area is strongly advised. Roads are narrow and winding with blind curves and steep drop offs. Logging and fire equipment are large and heavy and have less maneuverability than standard vehicles. Motorists are asked to use alternative routes to avoid the area if possible.

The Double Creek Fire in northeastern Oregon in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest continues to grow and is mapped at 137,179 acres with 15% containment.

The lightning-caused fire is a full-suppression fire and the protection of lives and property remain the primary objectives.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality advisory downgrading air quality and enacting burn bans for the five counties of north central Idaho because of the wildfire smoke.

The air quality was listed as moderate Friday but downgraded to unhealthy for today and Sunday.

Open burning is prohibited. Anyone with questions may call the DEQ office at (208) 799-4370.

Hedberg may be contacted at khedberg@lmtribune.com.