UMATILLA COUNTY:  Crews battle fires on National Forest

UMATILLA COUNTY: Crews battle fires on National Forest

The Umatilla National Forest reports that firefighters are making progress on wildfires that were recently discovered on the Heppner and North Fork John Day ranger districts. Two of the fires are being managed to help create fuel breaks in the event of future wildfires while reducing hazardous fuel conditions in the area.

The West Texas Fire is nine miles south of Ukiah near Texas Bar on the North Fork John Day Ranger District. In last report, it was 10 acres and is creeping and smoldering in open timber.

The Skookum Fire is burning on the Heppner Ranger District about one mile northwest of the Alder Creek/Skookum Trailhead and two miles northeast of the Tupper Guard Station. It is estimated at 50 acres and is smoldering in a mixture of grass, brush, timber, and snags.

Officials are asking the public to use caution when on the forest and be aware of the increased hazards, especially snags and smoky conditions. Prescribed burns are also being implemented in other parts of the forest due to the mild weather conditions. Visitors are also asked not to camp or hang out in burned areas. Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a fire are unstable. Loose rocks and logs can also be present and burned vegetation can contribute to landslides and mudslides when rain occurs.

Forest officials recommend that campfires be kept in fire pits in areas that are not conducive to rapid fire spread. All flammable material within a three-foot radius should be cleared. In addition, campfires must be attended at all times and completely extinguished prior to leaving.