Hells Canyon Scenic Byway > Alerts > Fire Activity gets an early start in Byway Country

The following update to the Joseph Creek and Dry Creek Fires was released by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Saturday, June 12, 2021.

ENTERPRISE, OR__On the morning of June 11, at 6:00 a.m., NW Team 7 transitioned management of the fire back to local agencies. Northwest Team 7 would like to thank the entire Wallowa County community for their support as well as firefighters for all their hard work throughout this incident. Local agencies will continue to monitor conditions and will remain ready in the event there are changes to the current status.

Joseph Canyon Fire –   Start Date: June 4, 2021     Cause: Lightning     Size: 7,610 acres     Containment: 95%  Location: The Joseph Canyon Fire is located in steep rugged terrain of Joseph Canyon area of northern Wallowa County, Oregon.

Status: Weather patterns continued to provide favorable conditions for suppression actions due to cooler temperatures and scattered showers in the fire area yesterday. Minimal fire behavior occurred due to higher fine fuel moisture.

Dry Creek Fire – Start Date: June 3-4, 2021     Cause: Lightning     Size: 1,585 acres     Containment: 95%
Location:  The Dry Creek Fire is located in a remote and rugged part of Hells Canyon, northeast of Joseph, OR.

Status: Weather patterns continued to provide favorable conditions yesterday for suppression efforts due to cooler temperatures and scattered showers in the fire area. Minimal fire behavior occurred due to higher fine fuel moisture and precipitation.

Weather: Cloudy skies are expected, with a slight chance for afternoon showers. South winds of 5-10 mph.

Evacuations: There are currently no evacuation orders associated with the Joseph Canyon and Dry Creek fires.

Closures: The Nez Perce Tribe has temporarily closed the Precious Lands Wildlife Management Area in Northeastern Oregon: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/7513/59633/

Fire Season Declared: Oregon Department of Forestry’s Northeast Oregon District proclaimed fire season began Wednesday, June 9, at 12:01 a.m. They have new fire restriction signs located throughout the district, with a Fire Prevention information line; (541) 975-3027 and a QR code which will take you to www.bmidc.org, for current information on fire restrictions.

Prevention Message: Whether we are out in nature or home in our backyards, remember that it’s our role to protect the lands we love by preventing wildfires and recreating responsibly.

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The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest issued the following press release, June 5, 2021. Please be extra cautious when traveling and recreating throughout Eastern Oregon, as fire danger is high early this season, due to drought conditions and low humidity.

JOSEPH, OREGON__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.

CONTACTS: Sara Bethscheider (541-426-5585) or Christie Shaw (541-263-0661)

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