JOSEPH, Ore. – Cooler temperatures and moderate winds Sunday slowed the spread of the Joseph Canyon Fire, allowing firefighters to work more strategically.
“We won today,” said Andy Hayes, the incident commander trainee with the Blue Mountain Type 3 Incident Management Team said. “We didn’t win Saturday (when higher winds challenged firefighters), but we won today.”
Additional resources and successful burnout operations along the west side of Cottonwood Creek created the anchor point needed to begin establishing containment lines. Steep, rugged terrain remains the biggest challenge, as firefighter safety is always the first priority.
The fire is burning in and around the Grande Ronde and Joseph Creek Areas of Critical Environmental Concern on the Vale District Bureau of Land Management and in the Nez Perce Precious Lands Wildlife Area (Héte’wits Wétes), which is protected by Oregon Department of Forestry. Firefighters are working to protect ecological, geological and cultural resources along with private property, rangeland and timber.
Although containment remains at zero percent, fire spread was limited to 300 acres, for a total of 4,000 acres at the end of the day. Northwest 7 Type 2 Incident Management Team is assuming command of both the Joseph Canyon and Dry Creek fires.
The 1,600-acre Dry Creek Fire is burning in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest approximately 10 miles southeast of the Joseph Canyon Fire. Two hotshot crews, smoke jumpers and rappelers are working to secure a line between Downey Creek and north Cook Creek to anchor suppression efforts.
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 both fires.