Saturday update: fire burns 37,000 acres; area closure in effect

photo by Mel Gard/Inciweb       Retardant is dropped Thursday is dropped in the ongoing fight against the Cache Creek Fire.

Firefighting resources continue to arrive to assist in suppression efforts of the Cache Creek Fire, which has spread to 37,000 acres in northeast Wallowa County and Asotin, Wash.

According to a fire report released at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, total number of personnel is now 691.

In the interest of public safety, the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest  implemented an Area Forest Closure near the Cache Creek Fire as of 9:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24.

Saturday’s operational plan includes: holding and improving lines to keep the fire south of the Grande Ronde River and east of Joseph Creek and Cottonwood Creek; protecting structures and minimizing acres burned on ODF protected private lands on the west perimeter; holding the fire east of Cold Springs Ridge on the southwest perimeter; and scouting of potential containment lines on the south perimeter.

Marine air pushed into the fire area last night following a cold front passage. Increased fire activity from this resulted in the divisions to the west and south of the fire increasing in burned acreage. The Frog Pond spike camp was moved to Thomason Meadow Guard Station due to its proximity to the fire.

A new operational branch has been developed to create contingency fire line along existing ridge top roads several miles south and southwest of the fire. Firefighters will cut brush, chip and clear roads to use as potential fire line.

A firefighter was struck in the head by a tent fly pole during a wind gust last night in spike camp resulting in stiches. The firefighter returned to the line today.

Smokey conditions are expected throughout the day with a change in wind direction. An inversion at approximately 4,000 ft elevation will hold smoke in the valleys this morning lifting slightly this afternoon.

The Asotin County Sheriff's Department has closed County Road 209 (Snake River Drive) at the Grand Ronde River bridge north of Rogersburg for public safety.

To view details of the Forest Area Closure order near the fire issued for public safety by the Wallow-Whitman National Forest, a map and description can be found at http://www.fs.usda.gov/wallowa-whitman or www.inciweb.org/incident/3202.

With opening of archery hunting season in Oregon today, all hunters and recreationalists are cautioned to watch for the increased amount of firefighting traffic near the fire area. In addition, all visitors are asked to be very conscientious of the extreme fire danger.

The Cache Creek Fire started at 4:30 pm on Monday, August 20, 2012, by lightning in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area (NRA). The fire is approximately 41 miles northeast of Enterprise, OR and is burning in both Oregon and Washington on Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Oregon Department of Forestry protected private, and Washington Fish and Wildlife state lands.

The Central Oregon Incident Management Type 2 team assumed command of the fire Thursday morning, Aug. 23, with the incident command post set up at the rodeo grounds in Joseph. A helibase is sited at the Joseph airport.

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