PENDLETON, Ore. —Umatilla National Forest officials advise visitors that smoke may be visible in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness from a small wildfire burning near the Slick Ear Trail #3104 on the Pomeroy Ranger District.
The Slick Ear Fire was discovered on Sept. 14 following a lightning storm and is located approximately 28 miles northeast of Elgin, Oregon. The fire is east of the Slick Ear Trail #3104 and about a mile north of the Wenaha River. The six-acre fire is burning in rugged and steep terrain. Firefighters attempted to staff the fire during initial attack, but they were unable to safely engage the fire from the ground because of the difficult terrain. Since reported, the fire has been creeping and smoldering in a mixture of brush, heavy timber, and snags (dead or burned trees). The fire has periodically entered pockets of heavier fuels, causing it to produce more visible smoke. Firefighters have monitored the fire over the past several days and utilized helicopters to stop fire spread and cool hotspots when the fire has reached these heavier fuels.
Given the time of year, remote location, hazardous terrain, low fire behavior, and favorable weather conditions (particularly cool nighttime temperatures with higher relative humidity), fire managers’ current suppression strategy is to use aerial reconnaissance and drop water on the fire when needed. If fire behavior increases, District staff will take further suppression actions as necessary, which may include using aircraft to minimize fire growth and/or prepping trails to use as indirect containment lines.
The National Weather Service is forecasting a chance of showers over the fire area Wednesday night and Thursday in higher elevations. The public is asked to use caution when entering the area and be aware of increased hazards, particularly snags and smoky conditions. Until a significant rain event occurs, smoke may be visible in the area.
Forest officials want to remind everyone that the current fire danger rating is MODERATE and Public Use Restrictions involving chainsaw use are in effect.
For more information regarding Restrictions, please contact the Umatilla National Forest information hotline at (877) 958-9663. The latest fire information will be posted on the Blue Mountains Fire Information Blog at http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com/.
More information about the Umatilla National Forest is available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla.