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Thursday, September 1, 2016

9/01/2016 Rail Fire Update

SW Winds still testing southeast firelines

Unity, Oregon – Southwest winds and dry weather have continued stoking the fire burning through logs and brush on interior portions of the 41,614-acre Rail Fire. By mid-afternoon yesterday the fire fighters were experiencing winds over 30 mph, gusting to 40, and the smoke had consolidated into a broad column that was widely visible to surrounding communities. Several small spot fires ignited across the fireline in the area between Table Rock and Bull Run Rock. The embers are landing to the lee of a ridge. Ground crews and helicopters, responding quickly, have successfully prevented further spread.

Last night’s night shift, somewhat reduced when a crew was diverted to assist with a new fire on private forest land near Baker, focused on patrolling, holding and mopping up the newest containment line segment that closes off the fire’s southern edge. The adjacent interior fuels have burned and that line is about 400 feet wide.

Although the weather is definitely on a more humid, cooling trend, the SW winds that are delivering the new system will continue to support active burning with potential spotting until there is significant rain or the ember-producing interior pockets of trees and logs are consumed. The largest interior unburned island is about 1,000 acres.

There is a 10% chance of slight wetting rain on the northern part of the fire tonight. Nighttime temperatures will dip into the low 30’s starting Friday night. The Logistics section is preparing extra hot food and heated meeting tents in support of several hundred firefighters camped close to the fire area at 5200 ft.

This morning, Forest Road 13 reopened to public travel and firewood loading for people with valid Malheur National Forest firewood permits. As more people approach the forest for holiday recreation and hunting, we remind them that the vicinity of the Rail Fire remains closed, as are many roads that approach it, including Forest Road 16. Please be alert for firefighters and vehicles and be especially cautious because all of eastern Oregon is extremely dry.

Northwest Incident Management Team 13-Brian Gales, Incident Commander

Fire at a Glance
Size: 41,614 acres
Containment: 70%
Location: 5 miles west of Unity, Oregon
Cause: Under Investigation
Personnel: 780
17 Crews
17 Engines
6 Dozers
34 Water tenders
1 Masticator
5 Skidders/Skidgins
4 Type 1 heavy helicopters
1 Type 2 medium helicopter
2 Type 3 light helicopters
The fire area and nearby roads including FR16 are closed. The closure order can be found at
(Click “Maps” for the closure map). FR13 reopened on Thursday September 1, 2016. Firewood loading allowed.
Fire Information:
(541) 446-3592

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