Pendleton, Oregon: Firefighting resources were pulled off wildfires burning in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area due to extreme fire behavior. “Firefighter and public safety is our top priority,” said Brian Ebert, Deputy Fire Staff for the Umatilla National Forest. “We pulled our firefighters back to a safe location. We didn’t have the aerial resources to support them on the ground and no way extract them with the predicted wind event. We’ll reassess our suppression strategy once the fire behavior allows,” said Ebert.
Today’s weather conditions, with wind gusts up to 35 MPH, contributed to extreme fire behavior in the steep, rugged canyons of the wilderness area that straddles the northeast Oregon and southeast Washington border. Thirteen of fires reported from yesterday’s lightning storm are located inside the wilderness and total over 500 acres. These fires are being managed as the Grizzly Bear Complex. The remaining fires have been lined and are in patrol status.
Road and trail closures associated with the Grizzly Bear Complex include:
· Forest Road 46 Road From its junction with Forest Road 64 east to Godman Campground.
· Forest road 4608
· West Butte Creek Trail #3138
· East Butte Creek #3112
· Grizzly Bear #3121
· Smooth Ridge Trail #3105
· Danger Point Trail #3109
· Misery Trail Trail #3113
· Turkey Creek Trail #3136
The National Fire Preparedness Level is at 5, the highest possible. Preparedness levels range from one, indicating minimal activity, to five, signaling very high activity. It assesses the degree of wildfire activity, the current commitment of fire resources, and the probability of continued severe conditions. A red flag warning with strong, gusty winds and low humidities is in effect through Friday evening.
“Several large fires burning in the region are threatening structures, communities and closing major roadways,” said Brian Ebert, Deputy Fire Staff for the Umatilla National Forest. “With critical shortages of firefighting resources, wilderness fires will not rank high on the priority list. Our strategy and suppression tactics will be based on our available resources, values at risk, safety concerns, current fire behavior and forecasted weather,” said Ebert.
Fire information on the Grizzly Bear Complex is available through several social media outlets including:
· InciWeb: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4511/
· Facebook: www.facebook.com/UmatillaNF
· Twitter: @UmatillaNF
· Forest Website: www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla/
Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME and Public Use Restrictions involving campfires and chainsaw use are in effect on the Umatilla National Forest. Regulated closures are in effect on State and private lands protected by Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) in northeast and central Oregon.
For more information about the Umatilla National Forest’s Public Use Restrictions, please contact any forest office, call our Forest Information hotline at 1-877-958-9663, or visit our website at www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla/.