Birch Creek Fire Update

Sept. 18, 2020

PENDLETON, Ore. – Firefighters continue to make progress securing containment lines on the Birch Creek Fire yesterday, which is burning on the North Fork John Day Ranger District west of the junctions of Forest Service Road (FSR) 54 with FSR 5412 and FSR 5411, approximately 12 miles northeast of Ukiah, Oregon.

The Birch Creek Fire remains approximately 35 acres and is 50% contained. Fire behavior was moderate yesterday, primarily consisting of backing and smoldering with isolated torching. Firefighters continued to improve containment lines and completed mop up activities further into the interior of the fire perimeter. Mopping up includes searching for pockets of heat, digging out the heat source, and cooling with water. Today, firefighters will continue to strengthen containment lines and conduct mop up activities. There are pockets of unburned fuel within the interior of the fire, which may produce smoke as the fire moves through those areas.  Additionally, heavy equipment will finish contingency lines today, providing additional protection for private lands to the southwest.

Increased winds, rain and a slight chance of isolated thunderstorms are forecasted for today. Crews will be alert for increased hazards if high winds occur, such as flare-ups or falling snags weakened by fire.

To protect public and firefighter safety, an area and road closure is in effect surrounding the Birch Creek Fire. The forest order prohibits anyone from entering (by any means of transportation), hunting or camping within the closure area. The closure includes portions of Forest Service Road (FSR) 54, FSR 5411 and FSR 5412. A detailed map and description of the closure order is available on the Forest website and at any Forest office. Closure barriers and signs are posted on the ground and visitors can take alternative routes out of the area including Yellowjacket Road (FSR 5412 and FSR 5420), FSR 54 south to Highway 244 and FSR 5427 east to Indian Lake. Access to the popular area south of Granite Meadows toward Oregon Highway 244 is still available via FSR 5412 and the 030 spur.

The health and safety of the public and wildland fire responders is top priority and mitigations are being taken regarding group sizes by dispersing firefighting resources through separate and smaller fire camps and conducting virtual meetings when possible.

Current resources assigned to the fire include six engines, three crews, seven water tenders, two dozers, two masticators, one feller buncher and one skidder.

Fire officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating remains at EXTREME and public use restrictions involving campfires, chainsaw use, smoking and off-road travel are in effect.

For more information regarding Restrictions, please contact:

Umatilla National Forest:

Information Hotline: Toll-Free (877) 958-9663

Twitter: @UmatillaNF

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