Thursday, July 17, 2014

FIREFIGHTERS DOUSE GRASS/STRUCTURE FIRE IN RURAL JOSEPH

A firefighter applies water to an outbuilding while a second structure continues to burn
  
Water cascades outside a wall as a firefighter
douses hot spots in building's interior
Joseph and Enterprise firefighters responded to a grass fire that spread to nearby structures off Imnaha Highway Thursday afternoon, July 17.

Several acres were blackened and at least two outbuildings sustained heavy damage. A nearby house was saved.

The fire is under investigation, but initial signs indicated the cause either was either electrical  or an earlier permitted burn that reignited.

Assisting on the scene were personnel from the Oregon Department of Forestry and Wallowa County Sheriff's Office.

While the fire was burning, Wallowa Fire Department was dispatched to a simultaneous wildfire in rural Wallowa.

Wallowa County has been the scene of numerous lightning-caused wildfires in recent days because of high temperatures and low humidity in brush and grass.



FIRE RESTRICTIONS PUT INTO EFFECT IN WALLOWA-WHITMAN NATIONAL FOREST

Due to increased fire danger and dry weather conditions, Phase A of the Public Use Restrictions for campfires, smoking, off-road travel, and chainsaw use will go into effect in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, July 19. The Seasonal Campfire Restrictions that are currently in place will also be in effect.

“Phase A is the second level of restrictions, generally implemented when the fire danger is moderate to high,” said Bret Ruby, fire staff officer.

The Seasonal Campfire Restrictions that are still in effect and do not apply to designated Wilderness areas and specified exempted developed recreation sites. The activities that fall under the seasonal restrictions include:
  • Campfires allowed only in fire pits surrounded by dirt, rock, or commercial rings and in areas not conducive to rapid fire spread, at a minimum clear of flammable material within a radius of 5 feet from the edge of the pit and free of overhanging material. Use existing pits wherever possible.
  • Campfires must be attended at all times, and completely extinguished prior to leaving.
  • Persons with campfires are required to have an axe, shovel, and one gallon of water in their possession (except in specified developed recreation sites and wilderness areas listed below).
  • Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled gas and wood burning stoves equipped with a chimney that is at least five (5) feet in length with a spark-arresting screen consisting of ¼ inch mesh hardware cloth are allowed.
  • Use of charcoal briquets is permitted within the clearing requirements outlined under #1 above.

Following are the exempted sites:
  • Union Creek Campground & Picnic Area
  • Oregon Trail Interpretive Park
  • Fish Lake Campground
  • Tamarack Campground 
  • Eagle Cap Wilderness
  • Hells Canyon Wilderness
  •  Monument Rock Wilderness
  • North Fork John Day Wilderness

Phase A restrictions include:
  • Seasonal campfire restrictions and requirements described for June 1- October 31 apply (see above).
  • Chainsaws may be operated only between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m. local time. A one-hour fire watch is required after saw operations cease. Saw operators are required to have an axe (minimum 2 lb head, 26” length), shovel (8” wide, 26” length), and fire extinguisher (minimum ABC 8 oz.) in their possession.
  • Smoking allowed only in enclosed vehicles and buildings, developed recreation sites or cleared areas.
  • No off-road/off-trail vehicle travel or travel on roads not cleared of standing grass or other flammable material; no vehicle travel on those Forest Service roads where access has been impeded or blocked by earthern berm, logs, boulders, barrier, barricade or gate, or as otherwise identified in the Fire Order.
  • The use of exploding targets is prohibited.

The public’s cooperation and awareness of the increasing fire danger is essential to a safe fire season. “Recreationists, firewood cutters, hunters, and other forest users can all help in ensuring a safe fire season,” Ruby said. The public is responsible for knowing if restrictions are in place.

For more information about the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Public Use Restrictions, go to www.fs.usda.gov/goto/PURS.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

FIREFIGHTERS DOUSE HAY BARN FIRE IN RURAL JOSEPH

First on-scene firefighter plays water on burning hay bales
Joseph volunteer firefighters fought a hay barn fire on Countryside Road in rural Joseph between Joseph and Enterprise Thursday afternoon, June 12.

Firefighters manning two engines and two water tenders responded rapidly. Visible flames were extinguished in short order, but it took several hours for the hay bales to be pulled apart and interior fire to be doused.

The small metal barn appeared to still be usable.

The cause is undetermined, but ashes from a previous burn pile nearby were still smoking when firefighters arrived.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

FIRE DISTRICT BUDGET COMMITTEE TO MEET MAY 19

The budget committee of Wallowa Lake Rural Fire Protection District will meet to formulate the 2014-15 district budget at 6 p.m. Monday, May 19, at the Glacier Grill at Wallowa Lake. The meeting will be followed by the district Board of Directors' budget hearing at which the budget is expected to be adopted.

The district seeks citizens living or owning property in the district to be members of the budget committee. For information, contact district budget officer David Hurley, bdavidhurley@gmail.com.