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Saturday, September 3, 2016

9/03/2016 Rail Fire Update

Critical time for vehicle safety at the Rail Fire
Unity, Oregon – The 41,716-acre Rail Fire is 80% contained. Thanks to robust firelines and cooler weather, the fire is unlikely to spread from its current footprint. Crews and equipment continue to be active: patrolling firelines; retrieving equipment; repairing roads; and restoring dozer- and hand- lines to protect the environment and prevent future erosion.

Water tenders are heavy tanker vehicles that travel up and down from the fireline to water sources at rivers and reservoirs below. They fill up and return to the fireline, carrying thousands of gallons of water to provide dust control, assist road repair, refill engines and portable tanks, and support mop-up efforts. They are heavy, slow-moving vehicles. Thirty-two water tenders are currently working and traveling the roads around the Rail Fire.

In recent days, approximately 50 miles of the forest roads leading into and out of the fire area have been reopened for public travel. Local residents may have trailers for rounding up their cattle from summer range allotments or loading firewood along FR13. Visitors are coming to the local forests for camping and hunting. Some have multiple vehicles and large campers.

With the Rail Fire producing less smoke, some people are unaware of the continuing fire fighter activity and potential for traffic conflicts on narrow, dusty roads. This is a significant safety hazard. Everyone using the highways between Unity, Austin and Prairie City and the forest roads of the Wallowa-Whitman and Malheur National Forests, especially near the Rail Fire, should be cautious, drive slowly and be aware of the potential to meet large, heavy vehicles. Proceed slowly around blind corners and be alert to identify potential pull-outs that will allow wide vehicles to pass.

A cool, moist air mass will persist over the fire area through early next week. A few light showers are possible as clouds build up in the afternoons. Along with shorter days and longer nights, this weather pattern will benefit fire suppression efforts and slow fire spread should new ignitions occur. Please be extremely cautious with vehicles and sources of heat and flame. Although the grasses and tree needles are damp in recent mornings, they can ignite and burn easily in the afternoons.

Fire at a Glance
Size: 41,716 acres
Containment: 80%
Location: 5 miles west of Unity, Oregon
Cause: Under Investigation
Personnel: 804

22 Crews
19 Engines
5 Dozers
32 Water tenders
1 Masticator
5 Skidders/Skidgins

4 Type 1 heavy helicopters
1 Type 2 medium helicopter
2 Type 3 light helicopters

Closures: The area immediately around the Fire remains closed. Forest Road 16 remains closed south and east of the fire area. Most other roads have been opened. The closure order and map can be seen at Click “Maps” for the current closure map.

Fire Information:
(541) 446-3592

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