Elbow Creek Fire nears 11,000 acres

PENDLETON, LA GRANDE, VALE and BAKER CITY, Ore.

UPDATE: The Elbow Creek Fire continues to be pushed by erratic winds and hot temperatures, challenging firefighters as the fire burns primarily to the east and west, with some growth to the north. The fire is located in the Grande Ronde River drainage near Mud Springs, approximately 31 miles southeast of Walla Walla, Washington.

Helicopters and air tankers worked to slow the spread of the fire to the north and south yesterday, while crews aided in structure protection. Firefighters also worked the northwest side of the fire to keep the fire from spreading into Elbow Creek and progressing further through the Grande Ronde River drainage. Support from heavy airtankers aided in limiting the fire spread on the south on private ownership and firefighters were able to hold the fire last night north of Sickfoot Road. Based on infrared mapping, the fire is estimated to be 10,941 acres in size.

Today, suppression activities are focused on holding the fire in the Wildcat creek area on the east side and protecting structures at risk. Additionally, firefighters are establishing anchor points and scouting opportunities to build containment lines to the west side of the fire near Elbow Creek. Where terrain and fuels allow for crews to safely engage, firefighters continue working to build line construction and limit the fire spread on private ownership to the south, utilizing aircraft to slow fire spread.

The Elbow Creek Fire was reported on Thursday, July 15 and is burning on both sides of the Grande Ronde River and is on or threatening Umatilla National Forest lands, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest lands, Vale District Bureau of Land Management lands and Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Numerous resources are aiding in firefighting efforts, including landowners, private operators, and various federal and state resources (hand crews, dozers, multiple engines, and water tenders).  The fire is currently being staffed by a Type 3 Northeast Oregon Interagency Management Team. The agencies will inbrief the Oregon Department of Forestry Team 3 Type 1 Incident Management Team, led by Link Smith, today at 5 p.m. at the Wallowa High School. The team is anticipated to take command of the fire tomorrow.

The conflagration request sent by Wallowa County Fire Defense Board Chief, Paul Karvoski, to the Governor’s Office has been approved and additional resources are en route to support structure protection work with suppression efforts.  The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office is surging resources to assist the local fire agencies.

Wallowa County has updated evacuation information. Additional information regarding evacuations is available through the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 426-3131 or by monitoring the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook.

Closures are also in place surrounding the fire. Due to fire activity on both sides of the Grande Ronde River corridor, the river is closed at Minam State Park. Any rafters that arrive into the fire area will be safely evacuated in coordination with Wallowa County Search and Rescue. Due to extreme wildfire activity and the concern for the safety of the public the entirety of the Umatilla National Forest has been temporarily closed.

Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week. Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME.

The latest fire information will be posted on the Blue Mountains Fire Information Blog. To receive updates on fires in the Blue Mountains, follow our blog at http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/.   

Elbow Creek Fire- taken July 16, 2021

PREVIOUSLY POSTED: (Evening update from the Umatilla National Forest)

Firefighters battled winds and low humidity on the Elbow Creek Fire today, located in the Grande Ronde River drainage near Mud Springs, approximately 31 miles southeast of Walla Walla, Washington. The fire is burning on both sides of the Grande Ronde River and is on or threatening Umatilla National Forest lands, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest lands, Vale District Bureau of Land Management lands and Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands.

Winds and hot temperatures contributed to active fire behavior and growth today, as the Elbow Creek Fire burned to the northeast, south and west. With threats to nearby communities, helicopters and air tankers were utilized to slow the spread of the fire to the north and south while crews aided in structure protection. Erratic winds caused the fire to spot on the western edge and it has crossed Grossman Creek. Firefighters worked the northwest side of the fire to keep it from spreading into Elbow Creek and progressing further through the Grande Ronde River drainage. Heavy airtankers supported efforts to limit the fire spread on the south on private ownership and firefighters were able to hold the fire north of Sickfoot Road.

The Wallowa County Fire Defense Board Chief, Paul Karvoski, has sent a conflagration request to the Governor’s Office for additional resources to support structure protection work with suppression efforts.  The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office is surging resources to assist the local fire agencies. Firefighters are actively working to stop the fire and will go back through to assess structure or property losses when the fire spread has been stopped.

The Elbow Creek Fire was reported on Thursday, July 15 and is now estimated to have burned 10,000 acres. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Numerous resources are aiding in firefighting efforts, including landowners, private operators, and various federal and state resources (hand crews, dozers, multiple engines and water tenders).  The fire is currently being staffed by a Type 3 Northeast Oregon Interagency Management Team. The Forest has ordered the Oregon Department of Forestry Team 3 Type 1 Incident Management Team and will inbrief the team on Saturday.

The Level 3 evacuation notice is still in effect for community members that live at Eden Bench and Troy, as well as along Wild Cat Road (also known as Wallupa Road), Powwatka Road and the 500/501 Road up to the 763 Road.  A Level 3 means those within the evacuation area should leave immediately. A Level 1 evacuation notice is in effect for Roy Flat and the 603 road. Additional information regarding evacuations is available through the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 426-3131 or by monitoring the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook. Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week. Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED: (July 16, 2021) –  Firefighters continue battling the Elbow Creek Fire located in the Grande Ronde River drainage near Mud Springs, approximately 31 miles southeast of Walla Walla, Washington. The fire is burning on both sides of the Grande Ronde River and is on or threatening Umatilla National Forest lands, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest lands, Vale District Bureau of Land Management lands and Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands.

The Elbow Creek Fire is now estimated to have burned 9,000 acres. The fire was reported on Thursday, July 15 and is burning in grass and timber. Winds and hot temperatures contributed to active fire behavior and growth yesterday, pushing the fire rapidly to the northeast. The movement of the fire prompted the Wallowa County Sheriff’s office to evacuate the communities of Eden Bench and Troy. Firefighters, aided by aerial resources, focused suppression efforts on protecting structures in the area and establishing containment lines to slow the spread of the fire. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire continues to spread to the northeast. Today firefighters will focus on establishing access points to the fire and securing an anchor point where firefighters can build containment lines, utilizing aircraft to slow fire spread where needed. Resources on scene include hand crews, dozers, multiple engines and water tenders.  Additional firefighting resources are arriving today, including resource support from the Lick Creek Fire, burning on the Pomeroy Ranger District. The Forest has ordered a Type 1 Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team and will inbrief the team on Saturday.

The Level 3 evacuation notice is still in effect for community members that live at Eden Bench and Troy, as well as along Wild Cat Road, Powwatka Road and the 500/501 Road up to the 763 Road.  A Level 3 means those within the evacuation area should leave immediately. Additional information regarding evacuations is available through the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office at (541) 426-3131 or by monitoring the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office Facebook. 

Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week. Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME

Due to extreme wildfire activity and the concern for the safety of the public the entirety of the Umatilla National Forest has been temporarily closed. Additional information regarding this area closure is available at: https://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/2021/07/umatilla-national-forest-lands.html.  

The latest fire information will be posted on the Blue Mountains Fire Information Blog. To receive updates on fires in the Blue Mountains, follow our blog at http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/.