As two near Eastern Oregon wildfires race across thousands of acres, one prompting campground evacuations, 930 firefighters brought the more than 12,000-acre Waterfalls 2 Fire on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation to 60 percent containment.
The Parish Cabin Fire, estimated Wednesday to be 5,000 acres, broke out 12 miles northeast of Seneca, near the intersection of Forest Roads 15 and 16.
For public and firefighter safety, officials said people who may have been evacuated are not allowed to enter the fire area at this time.
Officials are in the process of establishing a process for allowing evacuees' entry to Parish Cabin Campground, as well as surrounding camping areas. When it is deemed safe to enter the area, an announcement will be made and the process will be explained.
For firefighter and public safety, roads in the area will be closed and road guards will be posted. Checkpoints will be located at the intersections of Forest Roads 15 and 1520, 1710 and 1619, and 15 and 1540 roads; as well as Forest Road 16 at Biggs Ranch, and Forest Road 16 at the east end of Logan Valley.
The public is advised to remain out of the area due to extreme fire activity.
Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4, a Type 2 Team with Incident Commander Brian Watts, is scheduled to transition with the local Type 3 team at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The fire displayed very active behavior throughout the afternoon and early evening Wednesday. Firefighters continued battling the blaze through the evening while providing protection for campers and hunters in the area.
For firefighter and public safety, roads in the area will be closed and inaccessible; the public is advised to stay out of the area due to extreme fire activity, including rapid and erratic growth potential.
Officials on Tuesday evacuated Lake Creek Youth Camp, Parish Cabin Campground, and surrounding dispersed campsites. Evacuations are being coordinated and carried out by the Grant County Sheriff department.
On the BLM's Vale District, a new fire was reported around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday and has grown quickly to an estimated 18,000 acres.
The Danner Loop 2 fire is located 8 miles west of Jordan Valley. The winds on Tuesday afternoon spread the fire northwesterly, but late Tuesday night, as the cold front moved into the area, the wind's direction changed and blew out of the southwest, causing the fire to spread to the east toward Highway 95 north of Jordan Valley.
Highway 95 was closed for a period of time Tuesday night as the fire threatened to cross the road, but fire crews were able to hold the fire west of the highway. A pilot car was taking traffic through Wednesday, but delays can occur should the fire or smoke make the road impassable.
The current acreage is estimated at 18,000 acres. Initial attack forces remained on the fire throughout the night and will be reinforced by more crews Wednesday.
The Jordan Rural Land Fire Protection has also sent resources to assist in the effort.
Air resources were available Wednesday to be called to assist as needed. Two type 2 20-person hand crews arrived, as well as an additional bulldozer, two water tenders, ten additional engines and supervisory fire personnel nd are being sent to the fire.
Fire investigators have not determined the cause of the fire at this point.
As for the Waterfalls 2 Fire, about 20 miles west of Warm Springs, several divisions of the fire reported completed containment lines Tuesday and crews were holding and mopping Wednesday.
Officials said one small burnout is still needed on the south side of the fire in the Whitewater River drainage, but otherwise, only mop-up, fire line rehabilitation, and backhaul of equipment remains to be done. This will include snagging trees with root systems weakened by fire.
Crews will continue gridding and mopping the fire perimeter until all hot spots have been eliminated within 300 feet of the fire edge.
With a fire perimeter of just over 29 miles, the area left to be mopped up is about 25 miles, totaling 900 acres. Most mop up is expected to be completed by the beginning of next week. This will include using about 40 miles of fire hose. Meanwhile, fire line rehabilitation will commence where appropriate.
As containment estimates rise on this fire, crews and other resources are being demobilized and made available to go to other fires. Some 18 crews will be engaged in mop-up operations Wednesday.
Air resources are being requested by other fires, and it is likely there will be one heavy-lift, one medium-lift, and one light-lift helicopter remaining by the end of the day.
The cold front that passed through Central Oregon Tuesday brought winds gusting up to 54 mph at around 6 p.m., as recorded by one of the remote weather stations set up around the fire. Air operations were forced to shut down at 4:30 p.m. because of the winds, but fire lines withstood their effects and no "slop-overs," or spot fires were reported.
The weather forecast called for more moderate winds Wednesday and overnight, as well as lower temperatures and higher humidities, all good news for the fire suppression effort. The weather is expected to begin to warm up again Thursday.