HORSE CREEK FIRE GROWS TO 1,000 ACRES

August 15, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

A grass and timber fire near Imnaha had grown to 1,000 acres by Wednesday afternoon and was neither controlled nor contained.

A Type I management team of two people, plus other support, is working the fire in steep terrain between the Imnaha and Horse Creek area, said Dave Quinn, manager of the Northeast Oregon Interagency Fire Center in La Grande.

Air support has dropped retardant on the site, Quinn said.

The Horse Creek Fire, as it is now called, was getting into more timber Wednesday after growing from 500 acres Tuesday.

Meanwhile, there were nine new smaller fires in the Burnt Powder fire zone near Baker City, Quinn said this morning. None was larger than 15 acres.

In Grant County, the Bridge Creek Fire near Ukiah resulted in the closure Wednesday of Highway 395 in the Camas Creek area. The highway, the main route between Pendleton and John Day, is closed between mileposts 50 and 64, the Oregon Department of Transportation reported.

The fire, east of Highway 395, is in steep terrain and has erratic fire behavior, said Joani Bosworth of the Umatilla National Forest. The fire is being battled by hand crews, helicopter bucket drops and retardant drops. A strike force of engines is protecting homes in lower Camas Creek that are threatened by the wildfire. Evacuation plans are in place for nearby residents.

The Bridge Creek Fire, which had grown from 3,400 acres Tuesday to 6,200 acres Wednesday but is described as 60 percent contained, is being managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Command Team, assisted by the U.S. Forest Service, the Department of Corrections, the state fire marshals office and private contractors.

The Monument Complex Fire, also managed by the Department of Forestry, is at 10,000 acres and is 10 percent contained. The fire, three miles north of Monument, made a significant run Wednesday. Several structures were threatened.

Nationally, the level of preparedness increased to the highest point today, as more than half a million acres were burning in 42 large fires across the United States. Nearly 21,000 firefighters are working on the fire lines.

Record high temperatures in Oregon, Washington and Idaho may increase large fire activity today. Predicted strong winds will challenge firefighters Friday, officials said.