Granite Gulch fire August 20

Smoke from the Granite Gulch fire viewed from Sheep Hill, east of Joseph, around 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 20.

JOSEPH, Ore.—Today, the Granite Gulch Fire made a highly-visible run up the Wild Sheep Creek drainage, as wind and fuel conditions aligned to produce active fire behavior. Exhibiting a pair of large smoke columns, the estimated 3,400-acre fire will continue to be active during this period of hot, dry weather. The Granite Gulch Fire remains well inside the Eagle Cap Wilderness, poses no threat to private property and continues to be managed by the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest for resource benefits, including fuels reduction.

In the afternoon, a Type 3 helicopter dropped several buckets of water on the fire’s south flank, cooling and slowing its spread to the Minam River; the Elk Creek Bridge was also doused from the air to protect that important piece of recreation infrastructure.

Much of the most intense fire burned in pockets of subalpine fir, a species of tree which has taken advantage of fire exclusion to encroach on the high-elevation habitat of fire-tolerant whitebark pine. By burning out these subalpine fir thickets, the Granite Gulch Fire is creating improved conditions for renewed growth of the whitebarks.

“As the Granite Gulch Fire continues to grow, it’s continuing to do good work in reducing hazardous fuels in the wilderness,” Incident Commander Adam Wing said. “We’re taking action to keep the fire within desired limits and behaviors.”

Forest visitors who plan to travel through the upper Minam River area should contact the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Wallowa Mountains Office at (541) 426-5546. Advisory signs have been posted at trailheads; there are currently no trail or area closures, but there may be a need for future closures to protect public health and safety.

Visit InciWeb for the latest updates about the Granite Gulch Fire. Please call 911 if you spot a wildfire. Fire danger remains HIGH and Public Use Restrictions (Phase A) remain in effect across the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.

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