Current situation

Winter and spring see lots of controlled burns in Oregon to eliminate piles of woody debris left over after logging or thinning. Embers buried in the ashes of these pile burns can sometimes reignite even days after a fire appears to be out, especially if winds blow away ashy debris. The same winds can then fan smoldering embers back to life. That's why it's a good idea to keep checking old pile burns to ensure no hot spots have rekindled.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

5-Mile and Somers Fires update - Aug. 9

5-Mile and Somers Fires – Joseph, Oregon

Information Contact Number: 541-432-0119

Location: Two fires near Imnaha, Oregon.

The park and grounds of the Chief Joseph Rodeo Grounds are closed to public camping due to use by incident personnel for the 5 Mile and Somers Fires.

Current situation:
5 Mile Fire –The weather yesterday provided firefighters with an opportunity to fight fire directly. The cooler weather tempered the fire behavior allowing firefighters to construct direct containment lines on the south side of the fire. Helicopters were used to cool areas with increased intensity.

Yesterday, firefighters began to burn along the south containment line when winds increased and shifted directions. Given those conditions, the remainder of the burnout was postponed. This morning, if weather conditions are appropriate, the operation will proceed and finish tying this containment line together. Hot spots over the ridge will be mopped-up and secured. The east, north and west flanks are all in mop-up and rehabilitation. If the south flank holds the need for the Level 1 Evacuation Notice will be reviewed.

The operational priority remains to secure the town of Imnaha and keep the fire from the Oregon Department of Forestry-protected private lands, ranches and homes along the Imnaha River Road. Structure protection at College Creek Guard Station and at Cayuse Flats has been completed. A weed washing station has been set-up for use by incident vehicles to reduce the potential spread of noxious weeds. An initial attack group has been identified to respond to any new fire starts within the local vicinity.

Start Date-August 3 
Cause-Under investigation 
Size- 4,700 acres
Percent Contained-35%
Total Personnel-383
            Crews-9           Engines-13      Water Tenders-9         Dozers-3          Helicopters-5

Somers Fire – The fire continued to grow laterally north and south. Firefighters are working to secure the historical Tryon Creek and Temperance and Ranches. Preparations include constructing fire line, removing receptive fuels around infrastructure, setting up sprinkler systems, and wrapping buildings in fire resistant foil. The priority continues to be point protection of the radio repeater at Somers Point, and additional sites located in the canyon.  The rappellers staffing this fire have been removed and replaced with a helitack crew.
Additional firefighters will be scouting potential containment lines with resources transitioning from 5 Mile Fire to Somers Fire to begin suppression actions.  Firefighters are being shuttled by jet boat and helicopters. Heavy helicopters will continue with bucket drops of water to cool the fire’s edge on the north and south flanks. 
Boaters on the Snake River need to be aware of water dipping activities and use caution while in the area. A new Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Closure has been implemented closing the use of the Oregon and Idaho river frontage for ¼ mile inland along the Snake River.  See Closures below for more information.

Start Date-August 3 
Acres- 15,000  
Percent Contained-0%
Total Personnel-13

Continued hot and dry weather will persist with temperatures in the upper 90s to 100 degrees with relative humidity of 9-15%.

A Level 1 Evacuation Notice remains in place for the town of Imnaha and residents along the Imnaha River Road 5 miles south of Imnaha near Freezeout Creek to 10 miles north of Imnaha near Fence Creek.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest has closed Hat Point Road FR4240. Wallowa County has closed the Upper Imnaha Road; private landowners will be allowed access. Two new Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Closure orders are being implemented that will close the Oregon and Idaho river frontage of the Snake River ¼ mile inland. The river will be closed on the Oregon side from Copper Creek to Rush Creek and on the Idaho side from the Forest Boundary to the north and the mouth of the Salmon to the south. For a full listing of the closures please see the following links:

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR): Two TFRs are in place over the two fires. The TFR over the Somers Fire is being expanded due to the perimeter growth. Please check the NOTAM for current information. TFR are in place for safety to restrict other aircraft from entering the fire area while incident aircraft are working.

For more information on the 5-Mile and Somers Fires visit:

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Current wildfire info

Cool, wet weather in the winter of 2016-17 ended Oregon's long drought and left a thick mountain snowpack. It didn't take long for that to melt and vegetation to dry out due to a series of heatwaves and a prolonged stretch of dry weather over the summer. As forest fuels dried, fires started and spread, many from lands adjacent to those protected by ODF, such as the Chetco Bar Fire in Curry County. That one fire accounted for 46% of the 47,537 acres of land protected by ODF which burned in 2017. Of fires originating on ODF-protected land, 95% were put out at less than 10 acres.

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Protection jurisdiction

The Oregon Dept. of Forestry protects 16 million acres of private and public forestlands from wildfire. This includes all private forestlands in Oregon as well as state and local government-owned forests, along with 2.8 million acres of federal Bureau of Land Management lands in the western part of the state. In total there are about 30.4 million acres of forest in Oregon.

Fire suppression policy

The department fights fire aggressively, seeking to put out most fires at 10 acres or smaller. This approach minimizes damage to the timber resource and fish and wildlife habitat, and protects lives and property. It also saves money. While suppressing large fires can cost millions of dollars, economic and environmental damage from wildfires can be many times greater.


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Oregon Dept. of Forestry's public information officers in Salem, Ore., maintain this blog. During the wildfire season, we spend much of our time reporting on fires and firefighting to news media and the public.