Progress made on the Rattlesnake Fire, in the Pomeroy Ranger District
August 27, 2020
PENDLETON—On Monday morning, the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team (IMT) 3, took command of the 400-acre Rattlesnake Fire, located approximately 20 miles south of Pomeroy.
Firefighters initiated suppression efforts on Sunday afternoon. A twelve-person crew was transported to the fire by helicopter to begin building containment lines along the southwestern edge of the fire. Two helicopters supported ground resources by dropping water on the fire to slow the spread and cool down hot spots.
Fire behavior was low to moderate on Sunday evening with the most activity in the southeast and northwest edges of the fire.
When first reported on Wed. Aug. 19, the blaze was burning in grass, brush, and timber with downed trees, a quarter-mile south of the Panjab campground in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness.
By Tuesday, Aug. 25, the fire had grown to 400 acres, upslope toward the south between two steep ridges within the 2006 Columbia Complex fire scar.
Resources have been stretched thin due to a large number of fires across the region due to lightning strikes, according to Darcy Weseman, Umatilla National Forest Public Affairs Officer.
Initially, one firefighter was monitoring the fire from a lookout across the Tucannon drainage. Crews also patrolled the area to identify potential containment features such as ridgelines or roads, for a suppression strategy.
Weseman said access was difficult due to the steep, rugged terrain and also because of flood damage to roads within the Tucannon watershed.
The Pomeroy Ranger District began to actively engage the fire on Saturday, using two helicopters to drop water to slow the spread and cool down hot spots. At the same time, contractors with heavy equipment, and local forest engineers turned their attention to repairing the approach to the Little Tucannon Bridge, on Forest Service Road (FSR) 47, and FSR 47, which had been damaged in the February Flood. Work on the bridge has been completed, and work on opening the road up to the Panjab campground is underway. A twenty-person crew will hike into the fire when the road has been restored.
The U.S. Forest Service has implemented a temporary road and trail closure surrounding the fire for public safety.
Fire officials are warning the public that current fire danger remains at HIGH, and Public Use Restriction involving chain saw use is in effect. Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist throughout the week.
For more information regarding restrictions, contact the Umatilla National Forest information hotline at (807) 958-9663. The latest fire information is posted on the Blue Mountain Fire Information Blog at http://bluemountainfireinfo.blogspot.com.