UKIAH — The Umatilla County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Forest Service worked to evacuate campers and hunters about 12 miles northeast of Ukiah on Monday, Sept. 14, in light of the new, "fast-moving" Birch Creek fire.

According to a news release from the U.S. Forest Service, the fire was reported at 11:22 a.m. and had burned about 30 acres of brush and timber by 5 p.m. Forest Service roads 5411, 5412 and 54 were being evacuated and were closed to the public, the Forest Service warned, and visibility was poor. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The sheriff's office posted on Facebook about 3:30 p.m. that deputies and search and rescue personnel had been requested by the U.S. Forest Service to respond to assist with evacuations. 

Darcy Weseman, public affairs officer for the Umatilla National Forest, said people in dispersed campsites around Granite Meadows and Pearson Canyon were being evacuated.

The Birch Creek Fire started near the junction of Forest Road 54 and 5412.

“Gusty winds are increasing fire activity that is already torching and spotting," Weseman said.

A Type 3 overhead team will take over control of the fire from the Ukiah District at 8 a.m. on Sept. 15, according to Weseman, and an incident command team will be set up in Ukiah.

"Current resources on scene include two Forest Service engines, two ODF engines, the Umatilla Veterans Crew, and the North Fork John Day hand crew. With the large number of wildfires across the region, resources are stretched thin and currently no aircraft are available to assist with suppression efforts. Additional resources are en route, including dozers, hand crews and engines," a news release stated.

The sheriff's office is asking people not to call the 911 dispatch center to ask about the fire out of curiosity, as that takes resources away from the emergency. Those who do need information can the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center at 541-963-7171.

"The City of UKIAH is NOT effected at this time. Information is still very new regarding this fire," the sheriff's office stated in an update shortly after 4 p.m. 

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