Crews wrap up Indian Creek Fire

Firefighters manage a burnout operation on the Indian Creek Fire on Thursday, Aug. 20, to help contain the fire. (BLM photo)

VALE—The 48,000-acre Indian Creek Fire took $5.1 million, 33 aircraft, half a million gallons of retardant, 398 fire personnel and 13 days to get under control, said Larisa Bogardus, Vale Bureau of Land Management public affairs officer.

The Northwest Incident Management Team 13, with firefighters from around Oregon and Washington, stepped into the firefight on Aug. 18, two days after the fire was reported, and left on Aug. 30, giving the fight back to Rob Gubser, High Desert Type 3 Incident Management Team commander.

Commanders from Team 13 were unavailable for comment after being deployed to another fire fight. The cause of the human-triggered fire, started along U.S. Highway 20 nine miles east of Juntura, is still under investigation.

The 33 aircraft came from Redmond, Boise, La Grande and Moses Lake, Washington, after the local aircraft was assigned to fight the California wildfires.

The aircraft dropped up to three loads of retardant a day, said Bogardus.

The fight was a first with its Covid precautions. Morning meetings were held outside, members standing apart from each other, with live streams and radios. The command post was set up in Wadleigh Park in Vale, away from the base camp in Juntura. There were no confirmed cases of Covid in the incident team.

The firefighters also came to the rescue of one 4-day-old calf. The calf, belonging to rancher Jeff Romans, hadn’t followed its mother when the herd was moved to safety away from the fire. A BLM crew helped recover the calf and return it to Romans.


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News tip? Contact reporter Aidan McGloin at [email protected] or at 541-473-3377.


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