SALEM, Ore. — Firefighters were getting the upper hand Monday on a wildfire burning on the Oregon-Washington border, aided by cooler temperatures and moderating winds, officials said.
The Joseph Canyon Fire has scorched 4,000 acres but grew by only 300 acres on Sunday, according to Larisa Bogardus, a spokeswoman with the Bureau of Land Management.
“We won today,” incident commander trainee Andy Hayes said late Sunday. “We didn’t win Saturday, but we won today.”
Some 200 people have been assigned to fight the fire, the largest this fire season in the region. It was burning in the northeast Oregon and southeast Washington state in rugged terrain covered by grasses and patches of trees, creating thick plumes of gray smoke. Firefighters were assisted by 12 engines and seven helicopters.
“Additional resources have been ordered and are en route,” Bogardus said.
High winds on Saturday challenged air resources but also pushed the active fire line back onto itself in some areas, aiding firefighters.
“This is probably one of the most difficult places to fight fire in Oregon,” Matt Howard of the Oregon Department of Forestry said over the weekend.
Several ranchers and permittees moved cattle out of the fire zone.
“The private landowners involved are no stranger to fire,” Howard said.
Another fire was burning 10 miles to the southeast, in the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Two hotshot crews, smoke jumpers and rappelers are working to secure a line to anchor suppression efforts.
Fire personnel from Oregon Department of Forestry, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Vale Bureau of Land Management and Washington Department of Natural Resources are involved in suppressing both fires.
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