August 8, 2013
Grouse Mountain Fire Update
August 8, 2013 @ 11 a.m.
The Grouse Mountain Fire started on Wednesday afternoon, August 7. It continues to actively burn 3 miles north of John Day. The city is not threatened by the fire at this time. The fire is currently estimated to be 2,000 acres. The fire is burning primarily in rugged terrain with juniper, grass, and brushy fuels. Active fire spotting, torching, and fire runs have been observed and are expected to continue today. Large piles of decked juniper in the area have added to the intensity of the fire. Immediate concerns are for further fire spread north and east towards the Forest Service.
Fire crews worked through the night with dozers, engines, and hand crews to begin establishing containment fire lines. Steep terrain has made dozer and engine access difficult.
Today, 8 engines, 2 dozers, 2 water tenders and 3 hand crews are assigned to the fire.
The fire is on private land but is within one-half mile of U.S. Forest Service ownership. Immediate concerns are for further fire spread north and east towards the Malheur National Forest boundary.
The fire is east of Highway 395. The highway remains open but fire-related traffic in the area may be heavy.
Two cabins are within the fire perimeter but there are no reports of damage. Two other structures near the fire area are threatened. The Mt. Vernon Rural Fire District has been providing structural protection.
The cause of the Grouse Mountain is under investigation. The fire is currently 15 percent contained with no estimate the date for full containment at this time.
The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) is directing suppression actions on the wildfire. Plans are for oversight of all wildfires currently burning in Grant County to transition to Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 Team (IC: Watts) later today. At that time, ODF will continue working on the Grouse Mountain Fire as a branch of the larger “GC Complex” (GC for Grant County).
Current weather forecasts predict continued chances for lightning and erratic winds through the weekend. Safety hazards for fire fighters include rattlesnakes and falling snags.
In related fire activity, ODF, along with federal resources, assisted the John Day Rural Fire Department to suppress at least three lightning-caused fires that started Wednesday afternoon on the southeastern edge of John Day threatening an estimated 400 homes. Aggressive air and ground attack successfully reduced the risk of these fires spreading beyond an estimated 400 acres and onto nearby ODF-protected lands. Two outbuildings and a garage were damaged by these fires.