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Wilson Prairie Fire reaches 700 acres in Morrow County

North portion held by firelines, but south section grew overnight
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on July 25, 2018 5:00PM

More resources arrived Wednesday to take on the Wilson Prairie Fire in Morrow and Grant counties.

Christie Shaw, spokesperson with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the burn stands at 700 acres. The fire on Tuesday jumped the containment line to the south and pushed into the Porter Creek drainage.

“Three helicopters were used to drop water on hotspots while tankers were used to lay retardant lines in front of the fire to slow the spread so ground resources could engage and build fireline,” Shaw said in a written statement. And while the fire grows southward, she said, firelines are holding north portion.

Shaw said resources continue to “scatter in” from all over to combat the wildfire, including a Type 2 incident management team. That unit hit the scene Wednesday afternoon, she said, took in a briefing and will take over management of the attack Thursday at 6 a.m.

Shaw explained the recent growth and complexity of the fire “prompted the agencies to bring in the Type 2 team to manage the increasing personnel and firefighting assets needed to contain the fire.”

The fire prompted evacuation and closure of the U.S. Forest Service campground at Bull Prairie Lake and is burning near the Morrow-Grant County Off Highway Vehicle Park. Shaw said the park remains open, although some hiking trails could be closed. She said signs at the park display which trails are off limits, and she advised hikers and others in the outdoors at the park should be prepared for other trail closures.

The weather is staying hot and dry, prime for wildfires. The National Weather Service reported temperatures Wednesday in Heppner reached 95 and predicted the same for Thursday, then a dip of a couple degrees Friday before rising to the upper 90s Saturday and Sunday.

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center shows the Wilson Prairie fire is the only major wildfire in northeast Oregon while the southeast section of the state has two blazes. The Rail Canyon fire is about 20 miles east of Rome and 300 acres. The Big Grassy Fire, meanwhile, is 3,000 acres and about 20 miles east of Vale.

More restrictions in federal and state forests in Eastern Oregon kick into effect Friday at 12:01 a.m. The tighter restrictions apply to campfires, debris burning, smoking, internal combustion engines and more. The U.S. Forest Service announced the restrictions for the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests, and the state reported its rules affect private, state, county, city and tribal lands in Union, Baker, Wallowa, Umatilla and small portions of Malheur, Grant and Morrow Counties.

You can find fire restrictions for forest lands in northeast Oregon at www.bmidc.org. You also can contact local Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service offices for information on restrictions. The Washington Department of Natural Resources could have similar restrictions on state and private lands it protects. More information isat www.dnr.wa.gov/.


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