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‘Hard firefighting’ defeats stubble field blaze

Shovels main tool in combating fire off Gerking Flat Road
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on September 28, 2017 8:37PM

Photo contributed by East Umatilla County RFPDA Pendleton fire fighter working to put the stubble fire out out near Gerking Flat Road.

Photo contributed by East Umatilla County RFPDA Pendleton fire fighter working to put the stubble fire out out near Gerking Flat Road.


Eight firefighters, 750 gallons of water and a lot of effort Wednesday afternoon near Helix curtailed a wind-whipped stubble field blaze.

The East Umatilla County and Helix rural fire protection districts at about 2:50 p.m. responded to the fire off Gerking Flat Road. East Umatilla Fire Chief Dave Baty credited the all-volunteer crews with their willingness to come to the community’s need. The Pendleton Fire Department, where Baty is a captain, answered the call for mutual aid, and the Oregon Department of Forestry also sent a unit.

Swirling wind caused the fire to get out of control, according to a report from the East Umatilla district. Eight firefighters in all took on the fire, and Baty said three farmers proved to be a tremendous help, using their disc harrows to create fire lines.

“I saw some pretty good, hard firefighting done,” he said.

Water supply was tight, with tankers providing 750 gallons. Baty said shovels, not hoses, were the main firefighting tool.

Crews kept the fire to about 50-60 acres, according to the report, and no structure burned and no one was injured. The last personnel left the scene a little after 7 at night.



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