At an agency cooperation meeting held this morning, Wallowa County officials learned from U.S. Forest service officials the Falls Creek Fire grew to 200 acres overnight. The meeting was held at the rodeo grounds in Joseph, the command post for the fire.
Wallowa County agencies including the sheriff’s office, emergency services and county commissioners Roberts and Hayward attended the meeting as did Joseph City Fire Department Chief, Jeff Wecks to discuss firefighting strategy for the blaze, located above Hurricane Creek Road in the Eagle Cap Wilderness about two miles above the Hurricane Creek Trailhead.
A USFS Type 3 Incident Command Team recently took command of the fire with Francis Tyler leading the charge as Incident Commander.
Tyler said about 60 people and one heavy helicopter are currently fighting the fire. More resources, including personnel, are ordered and on the way as they become available from other fires. He added that social media rumors of injured firefighters are unfounded.
According to Tyler, the fire is burning uphill and away from Hurricane Creek Road, but cautioned the area is under a National Weather Service “Red Flag” advisory through Aug. 24 because of projected increased temperatures and low humidity.
Aside from fighting the fire, Tyler said structural assessments of buildings near Hurricane Creek Road would take place along with the possible placement of structural firefighting equipment near the bottom of the road strictly as a precaution. “It’s highly unlikely the fire will head in that direction, but if the very worst happens, we don’t want to be scrambling around looking for equipment,” Tyler said.
Areas surrounding the fire are still under Level 1 (Get Ready) Evacuation notice. Hurricane Creek Road is still closed to traffic with the exception of residents and incident vehicles. The fire is zero percent contained and the cause is undetermined.
A community information meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m., Aug. 23, at the Joseph Community Center said Eagle Cap District Deputy Ranger, Jake Lubera. “We’ll be sharing what we know, but we don’t have a crystal ball,” he said.
For evacuation notice information and the evacuation process call 541-426-3131.