Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
1550 Dewey Ave, Suite A
Baker City, OR 97814
Thursday, the Granite Gulch Fire spread into the Cheval Lake area as the northwest flank began moving more eastward.
"The bulk of the smoke [Thursday] was from there," Incident Commander Andrea Holmquist said. "The fuels along the ridge west of the lake are sparse, but burning was active in dead and down we saw some group torching of subalpine fir."
One objective of the fire's management plan is to remove overly dense subalpine fir clumps to increase habitat for whitebark pine, which needs exposed open spaces to germinate.
Removing heavier ground cover and opening spaces in the forest canopy to allow more sunlight to reach the ground also encourages the growth of new forage for wildlife. Firefighters in the air and on the ground have seen elk and other game moving normally in and around the fire's footprint since its inception.
A spot fire on a north-facing slope in the riparian area south of the Minam River showed active ground fire with open flames, with surrounding avalanche chutes acting as a natural fuel break. Frequent slides in the winter and spring remove vegetation from these chutes, leaving only rocky debris, shrubs and small trees.
Gradual burning continued on the east flank the base of Brown Mountain near Wild Sheep Creek. In the Last Chance drainage, the fire continues to creep downslope incrementally.
Despite red flag conditions warning of the potential for abundant lightning Thursday and today, there was little storm activity in the fire zone overnight.
Two-tenths of an inch of rainfall was recorded at the Mule Peak Lookout, but less probably fell on the fire itself, Holmquist said. Small amounts of rainfall aid in the compaction of ash and disturbed soils, reducing the chances of heavy erosion.
Significantly higher humidity, cooler temperatures and rainfall expected through the weekend will again slow fire behavior and spread.
An area closure remains in effect until conditions warrant its lifting. The closure area description and a map can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/6498/