JOHN DAY – Local fire teams took over management of the South Fork Complex and Bald Sisters fires this week, as cooler weather calmed both blazes.
With archery season starting this weekend, and other hunt seasons coming up, the Forest Service is urging hunters to check with local ranger district offices on any fire activity and closures in the area they plan to hunt.
Closure areas have been reduced for both major wildfires, but the public is urged to be wary of fire traffic, rolling rock and fire-weakened trees and snags.
To start the week, the South Fork Complex was 96 percent contained at 66,126 acres. Crews were continuing containment work on the north/northeast perimeter, and mopping up and patrolling other areas.
Road 24 was closed temporarily as firefighters downed snags. All closures were lifted on the fire area in the Ochoco National Forest, while the Bureau of Land Management set closures for Jackass Creek, Murderers Creek and Oliver Creek roads.
The Malheur National Forest has continued a closure for an area in and around the complex, with closure information posted on the forest website.
The forest also adjusted its closure on the Bald Sisters Fire, still smoldering 12 miles east of Prairie City.
Bald Sisters, listed at 1,138 acres, is not contained by direct fire lines, but crews completed indirect – or more distant – lines to contain any fire growth in the steep canyon terrain.
Crews were cutting snags along Forest Road 1344 for safety, and doing repair and rehab in firefighting areas. Helicopters were available for bucket drops as the week began.
A reduced closure area continues in the area, with Road 2652 closed to traffic. All other main roads around the area closure are open.
The weather is expected to finish the job, either by fall rains or snow.
Meanwhile, crews attacked some new lightning fires on the north end of the Malheur Forest after thunderstorms swept across the region Sunday night.
A 1-acre fire was contained near Austin Junction, and another near the North Fork John Day River at Ritter was contained at a quarter-acre.
On the south end of the forest, firefighters lined a single-tree blaze.