Cache Creek Fire expands to 26,000 acres

By By Katy Nesbitt The Observer August 24, 2012 02:21 pm

The Cache Creek Fire grew to 26,000 acres overnight and burned Coon Hollow cabin, the only structure to have suffered damage so far.

Deputy Wallowa-Whitman Forest Supervisor Tom Montoya said “the cabin had an intrinsic value, and it is unfortunate that it was lost.”

Today’s objectives are to construct fire line and provide structure protection especially in Rogersburg, Cottonwood Creek and Josephine communities, the Jim Creek Ranch, Jim Creek repeater site, and the Chief Joseph State Wildlife Area in Washington. Protecting anadromous fish habitat and range lands are also top priorities.

Thursday, protection of the structures by ground resources and with aerial support from both airplanes with retardant and water drops from helicopters successfully held the containment line.

On the west flank, the fire burned down to a previously constructed bull dozer line that extended from the Frog Pond up and across Mt. Wilson. Crews patrolled the line and burned out approximately three miles of fire perimeter.

The Snake River continues to hold the fire from moving east. The south perimeter continued to expand due limited resource availability and the cold front passing yesterday that produced wind gusts up to 30 mph.

Today’s forecast call for temperatures in the mid-80s and 13 percent humidity.

Moderate to poor overnight humidity recovery can be expected through the weekend.

The fire, reported Monday night in Hells Canyon, had multiple air resources assigned by Tuesday morning including water dropping helicopters and retardant planes.

As of this morning, 320 people have been assigned to the fire that continues to receive air support from air tankers and helicopters. Base camp has been set up at the Chief Joseph Days Rodeo Grounds with spike camps for firefighters at Frog Pond and Cache Creek.

With lightning predicted in the forecast early this week, the Wallowa Mountain Zone called in for additional crews to stand by in the case of lightning-caused fires. Though the fire started in a roadless area and was initially fought from the air and by smokejumpers from Grangeville, these crews were dispatched when needed to help suppress the fire.

The Cache Creek fire is estimated to be 5 percent contained.