Baker City, OR – Over 600 lightning strikes resulting in 17 fires so far have been reported and initial attacked on the Wallowa-Whitman from the lightning storm last Tuesday July 16, with most of them ranging from 1/10 acre to 15 acres. There have been a total of 34 fires on the Forest this year so far. A couple of small fires were reported this past weekend with resources immediately dispatched - the Hammer fire 5 miles south of Lostine near John Henry Lake Trail #1651 in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and the Chap fire south of Spring Creek Campground on the La Grande Ranger District, both one acre or less in size.
The largest fire on the Forest so far this summer is the Cuba fire, located on the Idaho side of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area in Little Granite Creek near the Seven Devils Wilderness. It was also ignited by lightning this past Tuesday, currently at 530 acres burning in grass and timber, with 75 percent containment.
The Mineshaft fire, one mile north of Bourne on private land, was detected by Ireland Lookout, grew fast once it started and had potential to run uphill into some very heavy fuels and timber but quick response by SEATS (Single Engine Air Tankers) and other resources kept the fire to 2+ acres. This fire is 100 percent contained thanks to the Interagency response to the fire. “The Interagency initial attack on this fire by Oregon Department of Forestry and the Forest Service went very smooth, resulting in keeping this fire small,” reported Willie Crippen Fire Management Officer on the Whitman Ranger District. The Interagency cooperation is essential and will continue to be an important factor throughout the fire season.
A high pressure will continue over the region for sunny warm and dry weather through the week. Some lightning is anticipated in Eastern Oregon starting as early as tomorrow (Tuesday). While many areas still appear to be green, fuels are getting very dry and humidity is very low.
Forest officials encourage everyone to be safe and careful when recreating or using the national forest. The Wallowa-Whitman continues to be in Phase A of the Public Use Restrictions (PURs, which:
· restricts campfires to fire pits in areas cleared of flammable vegetation; also requires possessions of a shovel, a one-gallon bucket of water, and an ax at all times;
- implements a 1:00 – 8:00 pm shut down of chainsaws (similar to IFPL II – partial hoot-owl), with a required one-hour watch after shutting down the chainsaw to watch for and suppress any fire starts. In addition, all persons operating a chainsaw are required to have an axe, shovel, and fire extinguisher in their possession;
· prohibits off-road/off-trail travel; and
· prohibits use of exploding targets.
Visit the Blue Mountains Interagency Dispatch Center (BMIDC) web site at: www.bmidc.org for current information about fires, weather, and fire closure information.
In addition, the following fire restrictions are still in effect in the following locations:
· Wallowa-Whitman: Grande Ronde River (WAW Forest Order T-2010-WW-0616-07): Fire restrictions (campfire, smoking, driving off-road) are in effect on lands within a ¼ mile of the Grande Ronde River located in Wallowa county, OR.
· Wallowa-Whitman: Snake River in Hells Canyon NRA (WAW Forest Order 207-01): Yearlong fire restrictions (building, maintaining, attending or using fire or campfires) on land within a ¼ mile of the Snake River in Hells Canyon NRA.
o All lands within ¼ mile of Hells Canyon Reservoir between the mouth of Spring Creek and downstream to Hells Canyon Dam on the Oregon side only.
o All lands within ¼ mile of the Snake River on both sides of the river from Hells Canyon Dam downstream 71.5 river miles to the Oregon-Washington border at Snake River Mile 176.0.
· Wallowa-Whitman: Eagle Cap Wilderness (WAW Forest Order 357-02): Specific campfire restrictions in the Eagle Cap Wilderness such as:
o Building, maintaining, attending or using a camp fire within 100 feet of any lake or posted wetlands (36 CFR 261.52(a)).
o Building, maintaining, attending or using a camp fire within ¼ mile (1320 feet) of the following lakes: Bear Lake (Bear Cr. Area), Blue Lake, Chimney Lake, Dollar Lake, Eagle Lake, Frazier Lake, Little Frazier Lake, Glacier Lake, Hobo Lake, Ice lake, Jewett Lake, Laverty Lake, Maxwell Lake, Mirror Lake, Moccasin Lake, Prospect lake, Steamboat Lake, Sunshine Lake, Swamp Lake, Tombstone Lake, Traverse Lake, and Upper Lake. 36 CFR 261.52(a).
For more information about the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, please call (541) 523-1246 or (541) 523-1208. Public-use restrictions will be updated on a recorded message line at:Baker City (541) 523-1234, La Grande (541) 962-8679, and Enterprise (541) 426-5552, and are also available online at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman/ .