AIR TANKERS AID IN FIRE BATTLES

July 09, 2001 12:00 am

By The Observer

A lightning storm early Friday morning started a fire in Duncan Canyon about 15 miles north of Meacham.

Burning mostly in grass and brush along the canyons steep slopes, the fire had covered about 150 acres by this morning. John Robertson, fire management officer for the Umatilla National Forest, said the fire, 90 percent contained by Sunday night, was expected to be fully contained today.

Air tankers from La Grande and Redmond were dispatched to the fire and to a small fire in the John Day Wilderness near Granite. The wilderness fire was almost contained by this morning.

Robertson said more than 100 firefighters were on the scene along the slopes of Duncan Canyon Saturday, but by Sunday, about 70 were fighting the blaze.

A 45-acre fire about 40 miles southeast of Heppner was expected to be contained today. About 45 people were on the scene, Robertson said.

None of these fires threatened communities, he said. Weve got a good handle on them at this time.

The several small fires sparked by lightning July 4 in the Wallowa-Whitman Forest were either contained or out, according to the Interagency Fire Center at Union County Airport.