WALLOWA — The Elbow Creek Fire, which is burning in the northern area of the Umatilla National Forest in Wallowa County is said to be on both sides of the Grande Ronde River. The area is about 31 miles southeast of Walla Walla, Washington and closures are in place on the forest, including roads and trails and the Grande Ronde River. The blaze had chewed through 16,432 acres as of Monday at about 1 p.m., according to an update on Inciweb, which put the containment at about 10%. The fire started on July 15 and the cause is still unknown at this time. An update on Inciweb stated that the fire was about 10% contained.
Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 3, led by Incident Commander Link Smith, in conjunction with key members from Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Blue Team, have now assumed command of the fire. The arrival of the fire management organization brings in additional overhead capacity and firefighting resources, according to a news release on Sunday.
The release stated that progress was made Saturday on the northwest side of the fire with fire-fighting crews constructing line and stopping progression of the fire into the Elbow Creek Drainage.
Comments from the release follow:
“Dozer operations have assisted in cutting lines along the ridges on both the north and south ends of the fire. Burnout operations on the eastern portions of the fire were successfully performed Saturday night.
“On Sunday, crews and equipment were expected pick up where the night shift left off and continue to connect containment lines in open areas. Additional task forces were said to be joining crews on Sunday.
“Fire potential remains high with warmer and drier conditions continuing to be expected. The topography of the area acts in funneling winds — accelerating rapid fire growth and erratic fire behavior. The weather outlook for the week brings the potential of thunderstorms through Tuesday morning.
“After receiving the team in-brief from local agencies, Incident Commander Link Smith noted, “this is going to be challenging, but we will give everything we have to protect the natural resources.”
Oregon State Fire Marshal Chief Deputy Travis Medema echoed this commitment adding that the agency’s presence aids in, “protecting structures and further supporting the community.”