Humidity, Cooler Weather Aid Western Firefighters
Undated (AP) _ Authorities planned to triple today the number of firefighters battling a blaze that has consumed 4,500 acres of national forest in Utah while six fires in Oregon have burned more than 20,000 acres and injured five people.
Authorities said one of the Oregon fires, near Kah-Nee-Tah resort, would be controlled today after burning 920 acres since Sunday. About 200 firefighters worked on the blaze late Monday.
Four resort employees and a guest who helped fight the fire were in serious or critical condition at Portland’s Emanuel Hospital, officials said.
The fire’s cause was under investigation, said Bureau of Indian Affairs superintendent Bernie Topash.
Meanwhile, cooler, humid weather slowed the fire that has devoured 4,500 acres of Ashley National Forest in northeastern Utah, and authorities planned to triple to 750 the number of firefighters assigned there.
The fire, which destroyed a cabin, was burning primarily through low-value pine already destroyed by mountain pine beetles, said Liz Moncrief, state lands and forestry spokeswoman.
The fire was started by lightning 16 miles southwest of Manila on Thursday and high winds Sunday and Monday whipped it into a blaze five miles long and two miles wide, said Forest Service spokesman Terry Hopson.
Gusts up to 35 mph still hampered firefighting efforts, but temperatures were down about 10 degrees and humidity was higher, slowing the fire’s growth, Earl Smith, an assistant dispatcher, said early today.
About 250 firefighters were on the blaze Monday, aided by six helicopters, six bulldozers and six aircraft, but other crews were being brought in from Wyoming, Idaho and Colorado.
A 13,500-acre range fire 25 miles north of Lakeview in southeastern Oregon was contained Monday afternoon, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Rick Breckel. The cool, humid air and scattered thundershowers improved chances for bringing the fire under control soon, he added.
Two lightning-caused fires were out of control elsewhere in southeastern Oregon. Four thousand acres had been burned on BLM land 17 miles south of Rome, spokesman Bill Keil said in Portland. He said the fire, which began late Sunday, was spreading slowly Monday.
Another fire, six miles northwest of McDermitt near the Nevada border, had burned about 2,000 acres, Keil said. The fire began late Sunday in the remote Angel Canyon. No injuries were reported and no buildings were threatened by either fire, he said.
Firefighters continued to fight a 288-acre blaze in the steep Fourth of July Canyon near Brookings, about six miles north of the California border, said Bob Blakey of the U.S. Forest Service in Grants Pass.
The fire, which started Friday, was brought under control Sunday night, but firefighters were concerned that it could be rekindled.
The blaze caused an estimated $1.07 million damage to timber, a tower and two 500-gallon fire trucks.