Wallowa-Whitman National Forest
U.S. Forest Service
1550 Dewey Ave, Suite A
Baker City, OR 97814
More rain and temperatures in the 30s held the Granite Gulch Fire at a virtual standstill Sunday.
A total of 0.19" of precipitation fell at Mule Creek Lookout over the past 24 hours. Low-hanging cloud cover Sunday blocked a line of sight view of the burn area until late afternoon, at which time minimal smoke could be seen.
Continued cool temperatures and high humidity, scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms are predicted for today and Tuesday. A brief warming and drying period is expected Wednesday and Thursday, followed by more rain and wet weather this weekend.
A wildfire struggles to generate enough heat to dry out and burn the fuels around it in the same way a campfire does, resulting in very low fire activity. If it is too cold and wet, it eventually goes out.
To move, rather than spread from its center; a wildfire heats and ignites the fuels above it on a slope; or because the wind is pushing it into new fuels and adding oxygen that encourages it to burn hotter, the same way a bellows can help establishes a fire in a woodstove.
Wind can slow a fire by pushing it downhill, or against itself, called "backing," which results in a much slower-moving, lower intensity fire that consumes the existing dead and down fuels on the ground, dead or diseased trees, and dry out and kill smaller seedlings, saplings and trees that are more vulnerable to fire.
Under these conditions, fire managers can actively manage a wildfire to take advantage of the beneficial effects of fire on the landscape, adding nutrients to the soil, providing more nutrients and water to healthy trees and clearing space for new vegetation.
"The desired outcome is to have a mix of burn severities what is known as a mosaic burn pattern," Incident Commander Adam Wing said. "This provides the greatest variety of habitat and diversity of plant species across the landscape."
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/