September 02, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

The fire burning near the Beaver Creek Reservoir southwest of La Grande has been held to about 50 acres and is expected to be contained by Thursday.

Cathy Keable of the incident management team on the Boulevard Fire said this morning that about 580 people were involved with the fire, which is burning south of the Beaver Creek Reservoir and east of Boulevard Trail. The fire was spotted Friday evening.

The 5140 Forest Road and the Boulevard Trail have been closed.

The buildings at the reservoir are not in danger, Keable said, as the fire is burning some distance away.

We have a lot of downed woody material, extremely dry conditions and we want to make sure no sparks escape, Keable said.

A line around the fire has not yet been closed, but Keable said she did not know how much more is needed.

Planes carrying infrared equipment are searching for any areas of hot spots, she said.

Retardant was dropped on a series of hot spots Sunday. We hit them square, she said. Two helicopters have been dropping water on the fire.

Theyre making every effort not to drop retardant into the streams, Keable said. They are very conscious of protecting the bull trout.

Crowning through subalpine fir was reported Saturday, but by Sunday, no fire crowning was evident, she said.

By Monday, 13,000 feet of hose had been laid along Boulevard Trail, with tenders providing water for the fire. Keable said that a total of about 20,000 feet of hose is expected to be laid into the various fire areas.

The Beaver Creek Reservoir is La Grandes municipal watershed, and although it does not provide water to the city, it provides an alternative source of water.

The reservoir sits amidst an old-growth area owned by the U.S. Forest Service. A treatment plan involving logging and removal of downed and dead material was proposed several years ago but it has never been implemented.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.