On Thursday evening, Wallowa County Commissioner Mike Hayward confirmed that a conference call with the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal about invoking an Emergency Conflagration Act with regard to the Grizzly Bear Complex fire took place, but said the telephone connection was so bad he is unsure if the act was in process.
“They made it sound like we would get a conflagration act, but they didn’t confirm it,” Hayward said.
Gov. Brown did, in fact, invoke the Emergency Conflagration Act after the call, at just before 8 p.m. Thursday night.
An Emergency Conflagration Act is invoked at the request of County Commissioners if there is a threat to life, safety, and property due to the fire and that the threat exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local firefighting personnel and equipment.
The Governor’s declaration authorizes the Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) to mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire.
Hayward expects to receive more information today.
Hayward had returned to Wallowa County Thursday evening with good news and bad news with regard to the Grizzly Bear Complex fire.
On the good news side, he said, the newly formed Washington Interagency Type 2 Team (IMT), led by Incident Commander Brain Gales, was already at work finding structural protection resources for the Troy area.
“They’ll be working through the night,” Hayward said. “They were brutally honest. They were not sure what was out there available for us. We should know by tomorrow morning what they came up with in the way of fire trucks and personnel.”
The IMT is not going to try and put out the fire, which is spreading on three fronts, Hayward said.
“It’s not just our area. There are issues on the north side in Columbia and Garfield Counties in Washington,” he said. “So it’s a pretty big area to cover. I’d be surprised if they can find a large number of firefighters given the number of fires already going in other areas of the region.”
What the team plans, Hayward said, was to protect the structures at Troy.
“They’re going to try and protect homes in the direct line of fire,” he said. “The equipment should be there by (Friday) morning.”
The type of equipment is limited based on the roads into Troy.
“Those roads don’t facilitate big city-type fire trucks,” Hayward said. “There is some equipment from Union county already there in the form of pumper trucks and what they call brush rigs – one ton trucks with pumpers on the back.”
County Commissioners Paul Castilleja and Susan Roberts were in Troy on Thursday. Neither could be reached by phone Thursday evening, although Hayward believed that Roberts had returned to Enterprise. Catilleja was still in Troy and it was not known if he intended to leave or stay in Troy.