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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Local ranch helps wildland fire efforts

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Local ranch helps wildland fire efforts

ENTERPRISE — National wildfire resources are stretched thin this month, but local cooperators are helping fire agencies on the Wallowa-Whitman North Zone keep lightning-strike fires small.

A lightning-struck tree was spotted Thursday night by both the Sled Springs helicopter and the Fence Creek engine on The Nature Conservancy’s Zumwalt Prairie Preserve. It was quickly extinguished due to an early detection and quick response.

“Through our fire severity monies, we brought on a couple extra engines,” said Matt Howard of the Oregon Department of Forestry. “An Enterprise City Fire engine and the Fence Creek Ranch has an engine. The Fence Creek engine was close and they were able to get to it as 25 mph winds came through. They were able to get a handle on it really quick.”

Howard said Roberts Land and Cattle owners have a Type 6 engine on its North Zumwalt Prairie ranch and have been working with the Department of Forestry for several years. 

“They are wildland fire qualified and working through their task books to up their qualifications,” Howard said. “Their main goal is to assist landowners and ODF protecting private property. It’s a luxury to have folks that eager and willing.”

Howard said more lightning is expected Friday and a reconnaissance flight is scheduled for early afternoon to look for new starts.

A quarter-acre lightning-caused fire was called in Thursday on the south fork of the Imnaha River, 15 miles north of Halfway. Mark Moeller, assistant fire management officer for the Wallowa-Whitman North Zone, said four rapellers from the Blue Mountain crew and a Type I helicopter based in La Grande responded.

“We got an awful lot of rain, but we still could get a new one today,” Moeller said.

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