[Joseph, Ore.] Lightning activity from thunderstorms passing through the area Thursday night and Friday morning ignited multiple wildfires in the northeast corner of the state. Responding resources have successfully contained some of the ignitions, however others remain active and uncontained.
The Joseph Canyon Fire, initially reported Friday morning by Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), is burning in steep rugged terrain in the Joseph Canyon area of northern Wallowa County, Oregon. Low humidity, warm temperatures, and breezy winds hampered firefighting efforts Friday and the fire rapidly spread through the grassy vegetation within the canyon and crossed over the state line into Washington. The fire continued to burn actively overnight in the flashy fuels and is estimated to be approximately 2,000 acres.
The fire is burning on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Bureau of Land Management. A local interagency Type 3 team will shadow firefighters today and transition management of the fire to the team at 6 p.m. tonight.
A second fire, Dry Creek, is burning just to the east of the Joseph Canyon Fire. It is estimated to be 328 acres and is located solely on Wallowa-Whitman National Forest land.
All jurisdictions involved share common objectives in managing these fires, which is to fight the fires aggressively while maximizing the safety of the public and all fire staff involved. Due to the remote location and steep rugged terrain, the fires are mostly being fought by air attack. Rappelers, smoke jumpers and air tankers were brought in for initial suppression efforts. Three large airtankers dropped retardant along the perimeter of the Joseph Canyon Fire Friday to slow the fire growth. In addition to firefighter delivery, three Type 2 helicopters were used to drop water on hot spots. These aerial resources will continue to support firefighters on the ground today, as well as the addition of Single Engine Air Tankers. Active fire behavior is expected today with low humidity and increasing winds as a cold front passes through.