Susan Parrish
The La Grande Observer

HAINES — The Bear Butte Fire near Anthony Lakes is now the top priority fire in the Pacific Northwest, according to U.S. Forest Service and other officials who spoke at a public information meeting Monday night at Haines School.

The fire’s current size is 383 acres. It is only 10 percent contained.

The fire was spotted by a worker at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort on Friday afternoon. About 40 firefighters fought the fire on Friday. By Monday, about 370 firefighters were working on the fire with the aid of dozers and other heavy equipment. Aircraft, helicopters and air tankers have been dropping water and retardant on the fire to reduce spread.

The fire is being managed by Northwest Incident Management Team 9 led by Incident Commander Brian Goff. The team arrived Saturday, and after being briefed by local agencies, took over the fire management Sunday morning. The incident management team has established its command post near the Anthony Lakes Highway at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Elkhorn Wildlife Area.

The Anthony Lakes Highway is closed at the spot before the road begins an ascent into timber. The Anthony Lakes resort area was evacuated.

As the firefighters continue to work, officials ask that members of the public stay away from the fire. Curious onlookers have attempted to cross the barriers to get a closer look at the fire. That’s not a good idea, said Barry Hansen, the liaison officer with the incident management team.

“Road 73 (Anthony Lakes Highway) is incredibly dangerous,” Hansen said. “There are trees coming down. Rocks are cutting loose and coming down. Then there’s the snags and even live trees that are burning. It’s taken out the power lines. We’re trying to keep people safe by keeping them out of there. We’re hoping people will start to cooperate.”

Fire crews are keeping an eye on the weather forecast, which is calling for possible electrical storms Wednesday. A meteorologist is arriving at the site to assist.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 9 edition of The Observer.