JOSEPH, Ore. – Extreme winds Saturday challenged air resources battling the Joseph Canyon Fire, but also aided the suppression effort by pushing the active fire line back onto itself in some areas.
By the end of the day, the fire footprint was estimated to be 3,700 acres. The fire is burning in northern Wallowa County and southeast Washington about 23 miles southwest of Lewiston, ID.
“This is probably one of the most difficult places to fight fire in Oregon,” said Matt Howard, Deputy Agency Administrator for Oregon Department of Forestry. “Joseph Canyon is known for its extreme terrain, communications challenges, and natural hazards.”
Northwest 7 Type 2 Incident Management Team is shadowing the interagency Blue Mountain Type 3 Incident Management Team today and will assume command of the fire Monday.
Engine crews were able to establish and hold a line along 10 miles of roadway bordering the east side of Cottonwood Creek. They will continue working today to reinforce the line and contain any slop overs (areas where the fire has crossed the line).
Cooler temperatures and higher humidity today should slow the fire’s progression. Winds are expected to taper off by midday, allowing aviation resources to work aggressively to hold the fire between Cottonwood Creek and Rye Ridge.
Four hand crews, two engines and three helicopters are currently assigned to the fire. Additional aviation and ground resources are arriving steadily.
Fire personnel from Oregon Department of Forestry, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Vale Bureau of Land Management and Washington Department of Natural Resources are working cooperatively to protect public and private lands affected by the fire.
Several ranchers and permittees were moving cattle out of the fire zone to protect the livestock and allow firefighters unrestricted access into and around the fire footprint.
“The private landowners involved are no stranger to fire,” Howard said. “We have good communication with them and, given the circumstances, they are happy with the progress that has been made in battling this wildfire.”