August 26, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Obsever

WALLOWA Three people are all right, and what could have become a forest fire was immediately contained, when a pickup truck crashed and burned Sunday north of Wallowa.

Five off-duty Portland Police Bureau officers, out archery hunting, were credited with the quick response. One of them called 911 on his cell phone at 4:54 p.m. Sunday when a pickup lost control on the gravel Troy Road, hit a tree and caught fire about three miles south of hotel magnate Mark Hemstreets Shilo Ranch.

The 1997 Chevrolet S14 pickup was destroyed. Even the engine melted down. Wallowa County Undersheriff Steve Rogers said.

The driver, James Gray, 19 of Salem, and his passengers, Tasha Lee, 18 and Johni Lotze, 9 were transported by private vehicle to Wallowa Memorial Hospital, where they were treated and released.

The fire, being fought by the policemen/hunters, was less than one acre when four U.S. Forest Service helicopter rappellers and four Oregon Department of Forestry fire engines arrived and extinguished the flames.