Area closure lifted and road closure implemented on the Grizzly Bear Comple
Incident: Grizzly Bear Complex Wildfire
October 15, 2015
Pendleton, Oregon: The closure area associated with the now 82,659-acre Grizzly Bear Complex Fire, burning on the Umatilla National Forest, has been lifted effective October 16, 2015. Road closures have been implemented in place of the area closure on the south side of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness to keep vehicles from entering an area that remains hazardous with many fire-weakened trees. (A full description of the road closure is provided at the end of this news release.)
The Grizzly Bear Complex, which burned across a large swath of the wilderness, began in August and continues to burn actively in pockets in the steep, rugged terrain. The closure order encompassing most of the wilderness area and a number of roads to the north and south had been in place for nearly two months as District Rangers from the Pomeroy and Walla Walla Ranger Districts have needed to balance access to the area with the level of fire activity and risk to the public.
While the primary road that crosses south of the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, Forest Service Road 62, will remain open, five other roads between the 62 road and the wilderness will remain closed until further notice. These roads are: 6206, 6208, 6200090, 6214 and 6217 (see attached map). Bicycle, horse and foot travel will be permitted on these roads, however. The reasoning for this is that there are many fire-weakened trees along these roads that could fall at any time and place stationary vehicles in harm’s way.
“With the reduction in actively burning fire, I feel that much of the hazard has been abated; however, I would like to ask the public to continue to use extra caution when entering burned areas”, said Mike Rassbach, District Ranger for the Walla Walla Ranger District, adding “Forest users passing through the burned area need to be keenly aware of overhead and underfoot hazards. Even seemingly healthy trees in burned areas have been known to topple from above and burned-out stump holes and unstable slopes can trip you up.”
Hazards to be aware of if you enter a burned area:· Dead or dying trees that remain standing after a wildfire are unstable, especially in high winds. Remember to look up!· Burned-out stump holes can make the ground weak and subject to failure.· Loose rocks and logs are unpredictable and present the hazard of rolling debris.· Ash and fallen needles are slippery and can make for treacherous footing on trails.· Flash floods and mud flows may occur, especially in areas without vegetation.People intending to hike into, or near, the fire area should remain alert and aware of their surroundings at all times:· Know the forecasted weather before entering the area and assess the weather conditions continually while in the area. Conditions can change quickly, especially as we transition into fall.· Don’t camp or hang out in the wildfire area.· And, as always, let someone know your planned route, destination and expected return time.The closure order and map are available at all Umatilla National Forest offices as well as on the Umatilla National Forest website: www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla/, forest Facebook: www.facebook.com/UmatillaNF, and Grizzly Bear Complex Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Grizzly-Bear-Complex- Fire-1152633018086248/timeline/
The roads within the Umatilla National Forest remaining closed in their entirety:
FSR= Forest Service Road
• FSR 6206
• FSR 6208
• FSR 6214
• FSR 6217
• FSR 6200090