Crews work to keep fires small

Written by Katy Nesbitt/The Observer September 04, 2013 10:10 am
Late summer fires are keeping crews and aerial support actively suppressing fires throughout Eastern Oregon.

The Grande Ronde Fire, reported Thursday at 200 acres, quickly grew to more than 600 before nightfall and doubled in size the next day.

Tony Gilmer of the Washington Department of Natural Resources said the department was working closely with BLM and private landowners on the fire that straddled the Oregon and Washington border eight miles south of Anatone, Wash.

Single-engine air tankers, helicopters and ground crews, along with good relative humidity recovery Friday night, kept the fire at under 1,400 acres in the steep, dry, canyon country of the lower Grande Ronde River.

Assistant Incident Commander Ken McNamee said Saturday was a pretty quiet day. 

“Crews concentrated on the east and west flanks,” he said.

Gilmer said a Type 2 team was ordered, but by the third day it was evident that one wasn’t needed. Gilmer said his team’s concern, after safety of the crews, was to keep costs down.

By Sunday, crews were mopping up hot spots and monitoring with infrared technology. Rains that came through the region Monday brought cooler temperatures and some relief to the control effort.

Two fires on the Wallowa-Whitman are being managed as wilderness fires. The High Hat Fire near High Hat Butte has burned 63 acres, and the Katy Mountain Fire is one-tenth of an acre near the Minam River. Both are in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.