Fire crews working in Northeastern Oregon and Southeast Washington made progress yesterday in their efforts to contain the 61,150 acre Grizzly Bear Complex fire. Weather, terrain, fire behavior, and safety concerns still present many challenges for firefighters. The fire is burning in two states and five counties, and across multiple land ownerships.
Yesterday fire crews took advantage of lighter winds and better conditions to conduct small burnout operations that reinforced fire lines along the south end of the fire. Firefighters are simultaneously building primary containment lines and contingency lines in this area due to terrain and heavy fuels. Crews reported that a barn full of hay was destroyed, but they were able to save the home and a garage on the property. A primary residence in the Eden Bench area also burned yesterday.
The Oregon State Fire Marshal Green Team added a fifth task force from Union County yesterday to help with the structure protection in the communities of Troy, Grouse Flats, Eden Bench, and Bartlett. Those task forces will continue to coordinate with wildland resources assigned to those areas. Representatives from OSFM will also be working those areas to determine the number and locations of primary structures and outbuildings lost, which is currently estimated at 5 homes and 28 other structures. This data will also be utilized by the Red Cross to help those who have suffered loss with disaster recovery. There will be three task forces working the day shift and two at night.
Sunday’s weather forecast is for extremely dry conditions, unstable air, and a Red Flag Warning. Active and potentially extreme fire behavior is possible on the east and northeast portions of the fire. Heavy smoke is expected in the region again today, and a larger smoke column is possible during the active burning period in late afternoon.
Fire officials will hold two community meetings on Sunday. The first one will be held at the Anatone Community Hall in Anatone, Wash., at 3 p.m., and the second one at the Flora School in Flora, Ore., at 6 p.m.
Evacuation levels remain the same for communities impacted by the Grizzly Bear Complex fire, and due to the Red Flag Warning, those levels are not expected to be eased today. A detailed map of the areas under Evacuation level orders is available on the fire’s Inciweb and Facebook pages.