In the community

UPDATE: Fire crews work to stop wildfire north of Ontario that has closed the freeway

UPDATE 7 p.m. Thursday – A fire started by a vehicle blaze has covered an estimated 600 acres by Thursday evening, according to a statement from the Vale District of the BLM.

“The fire is burning in grass and brush, and has spread quickly due to critically dry fuels and gusty afternoon winds,” according to the statement from Marisa Carney, fire information officer. “Damages are being assessed by firefighters, which may include power poles and guard rails, but no structures are threatened at this time. No injuries have been reported.”

UPDATE: The westbound lanes of Interstate 84 between Ontario to Pendleton at about 6 p.m. and state officials say they expect the freeway eastbound lanes to open this evening.

An out-of-control wildfire is burning along Interstate 84 about 10 miles north of Ontario, forcing the closure of the freeway on Thursday, Sept. 1.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, the fire is burning about mile post 366, between Stanton Boulevard and Moores Hollow Road.

The fire started about 11:30 a.m. when a mechanical issue started in a fire in a pickup truck pulling a utility trailer, authorities said. The driver and passenger managed to unhook the trailer before the truck became fully engulfed and fire spread into brush along the freeway. No one was injured at that scene, authorities reported.

“Crews are battling the blaze but high winds are creating challenges for the firefighting effort,” the agency said.

Larisa Bogardus of the Vale District of the BLM reported that by mid afternoon Thursday the fire near Moores Hollow had covered 150 acres and was moving south. Fire engines on the ground were being supported by “multiple air tankers,” she reported.

The eastbound lanes of the freeway were closed about 2 p.m., following not long after by a closure of the westbound lanes.

“The closures could remain in place for several hours,” the agency said in a statement.

Eastbound traffic is being stopped in Pendleton because of limited truck parking in La Grande and Baker City. Westbound traffic is being stopped in Ontario.

Meantime, the National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for the area for Saturday. That means critical fire weather is possible, and the service said winds gusting to 40 mph are possible with low humidities.