By John L. Braese
VALE – A lightning storm swept through the area Aug. 7, sparking at least 20 wildfires.
The three largest fires are being managed as the Juntura Complex.
They include the Simmons Fire, 20 miles east of Juntura and south of Highway 20. It was at 5,000 acres Tuesday.
The Sheep Rock Fire grew to 7,680 acres Tuesday, burning on both sides of the Malheur River. It is six miles south of Juntura along Shumway Road.
A third fire, the Rooster Comb Fire, spanned 145 acres some 20 miles southeast of Juntura. Three engines and a water tender were on the site.
BLM officials said Northwest Incident Management Team 13, led by Brian Gales, took over the firefighting efforts Tuesday morning.
The BLM said it is working with local agencies and the Juntura Rural Fire Protection Association to curb the fires’ spread onto key rangeland.
Meanwhile, the Estrada Fire charred 105 acres in steep terrain near Weatherby. Favorable winds allowed crews to keep the fire from growing much over the weekend and it was listed as contained on Monday.
Two other fires were still uncontained Monday. The China Fire, about three miles northeast of Bridgeport, was at 15 acres in size.
The Pedro Fire, approximately 8 acres, was burning 10 miles southwest of Durkee.
Oregon Department of Forestry crews were finding access difficult because of the terrain.
The High Desert Type 3 Team, made up of fire personnel from BLM personnel from both the Vale and Burns districts, was managing efforts on those fires.
Two smaller fires were listed as controlled after response from fire crews. The Ruth Fire burned a little over an acre near Ruth, and a five-acre blaze was contained near Basque, located off Highway 95. Crews were on the scene doing mop up early this week.
Thirty miles west of Vale, the Log Creek Fire spread to 200 acres and was uncontained. Four more fires reported in the local area included: Welch Reservoir Fire, 20 acres, 10 miles north of Durkee, uncontained; Old Stage Fire, 35 acres; six miles northwest of Harper; North Dixie Fire, seven miles southwest of Durkee, 1 acre: and Tater Gulch Fire, one-quarter acre, eight miles southwest of Durkee.