By late Thursday night the fire was within a half mile of Troy.
“Our next position will be in the river,” said Wallowa County Sheriff Steve Rogers, as the fire licked the ridge over the town of Troy.
A herd of elk wandered over that flaming ridge and then turned back toward the fire, possibly seeking a route unfamiliar to humans.
The entire canyon (Eden Bench, Troy, Grouse Flats) is now at a Level 3 (get out now) evacuation level,
The winds that fed the fire had been strong all day long, so strong that deputies putting up roadblocks earlier in the day had to secure their warning flags against it.
By evening, winds were brisk and steady.
“Winds were blowing at 15 plus miles per hour between 9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.,” said Senior Deputy Fred Steen. “The fire behavior, which tends to lie down at night, did not appear to be doing that. It looked pretty active at that time.”
Earlier in the evening of Aug. 20, at approximately 8:30 p.m., sheriff’s deputies were giving Evacuation Level 1 notifications in the Flora and Lost Prairie area. The Redmond Grade northeast to Highway 3 was listed at Level 1 (ready to go at a moment’s notice) this morning.
The small town of Anatone, Wash. in Asotin County just over the Washington border was also listed at Level 1 (be prepared to evacuate). Anatone has a population of over 200 people and has more than 150 structures.
By 9:30 p.m. the fire was within a mile of Troy, and by 11 p.m. it was on the ridge above Troy, where Wallowa County Chieftain reporter Steve Tool snapped his picture. Firefighters were beginning to light backfires at that time.
During the day, the firefighting team got a few air assets in the form of another helicopter, bringing their total to two, and a fixed wing airplane that dropped fire retardant.
Wallowa County Emergency Program Manager Paul Karvosky this morning reported that a further five task forces, totaling 25 fire engines and 150 men would be at Troy today.
“These are ordered straight out of the Fire Marshall’s Office,” he said. “They’ll be protecting structures in Troy.”
The fire engines are Type 3 to 6. Type 3 Engines carry approximately 700 gals of water.
The town of Troy, which sits at the confluence of the Wenaha and Grand Ronde Rivers has been mostly evacuated, he said, estimating that between 50 to 75 individuals had made their exits yesterday. Troy has a full time population of approximately 12 individuals within the city, but families and workers live on outlying ranches, and the population swells in the summer as family and fisherman visit the remote location.
Ranchers have been moving their cattle out of the area for the last three days, Karvosky said.