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Willowcreek wildfire northeast of Vale now 75% contained

BLM
Willow Creek Fire, Oregon
Posted at 11:21 AM, Jun 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 12:47:41-04

ONTARIO, Ore — UPDATE 7/1: Direct fire suppression efforts on the Willowcreek Fire near Vale are expected to wrap up Friday as the fire is now 75% contained, according to Vale BLM officials.

Officials report containment lines are holding and direct attack suppression efforts will conclude Friday.

“If conditions stay the same today, we’ll be looking at a patrol and monitor status,” Vale BLM Fire Duty Officer Justin Fenton said in a statement. “Saturday we’ll transition to a Type 4 Incident Command.”

Lower temperatures and increased humidity over the weekend will help crews mop up, according to Vale BLM.

The fire burned a total of 40,274 acres, all grass and sage brush on both private and public land.

UPDATE 6/29 5:37 p.m.: The fire burning northeast of Vale, Oregon has grown to 42,128 acres with 45% containment as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Vale Bureau of Land Management.

Fire crews are preparing to work through the night to ensure the "Willowcreek Fire" stays between Willow Creek and Interstate 84.

“We did some strategic ignitions between dozer lines and the fire which increased containment,” Vale Deputy Fire Management Officer Jonathan Dunbar said. “The lines to the north are holding and we’ll continue to patrol and monitor tonight.”

Around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, the fire reached the west side of I-84 but did not cross it according to officials.

Cooler temperatures and lighter winds made for easier firefighting operations, Dunbar added. The fire continues to burn in sagebrush and heavy grass caused by the increase in spring rainfall, which dried out quickly when temperatures began rising.

ORIGINAL STORY:

A 40,000 acres wildfire burning northeast of Vale caused the closure of Interstate 84 between Ontario and Baker City for several hours Tuesday due to smoke.

Firefighters from Burnt River and Vale Rangeland Fire Protection Associations, Vale Rural Fire Department, Oregon State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, two water tenders, and two dozers are on the scene of what is being called the "Willowcreek Fire."

Air support resumed Wednesday morning after being called off overnight.

“The winds calmed about 3 a.m. which gave us a good chance to get around the hot spots on the fire,” Vale BLM Fire Duty Officer Justin Fenton said Wednesday morning in a statement.

The fire was first reported on private land just after 4:15 p.m. mountain time Tuesday but later moved onto land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. No injuries have been reported, no structures are threatened and no evacuations have been ordered. The cause of the fire is under investigation.