Oregon Department of Forestry/Joe Hessel
Plumes of smoke from several wildfires were visible in Grant County this weekend.
Two fires near Unity were reported Sunday after a fire east of Pendleton shut down Interstate 84 most of Saturday.
The Rail Fire, which started Sunday about 10 miles west-southwest of Unity, is about 700 acres as of Monday morning, according to Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Public Affairs Specialist Matt Burks. The fire is about 2 miles long and a half-mile wide, burning in lodgepole pine, he said.
Four engines, two hand crews and a bulldozer are on scene, Burks said, and additional resources were en route. Air resources are also resuming initial attack operations.
Burks said firefighters are focusing on constructing line on the north and east sides of the fire Monday morning. The nearby South Fork, Stevens Creek, Elk Creek and Mammoth Springs campgrounds have been closed. The nearest private land is 2 miles east of the fire.
Burks said the cause of the fire is unknown.
According to the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center morning briefing, residences are threatened, evacuations are in effect and “extreme fire behavior with crowning and group torching” was witnessed. A type 2 incident management team is tentatively scheduled to assume command of the fire at noon.
About 11 miles north-northwest of Unity, crews are battling the Whitney Fire, which was also reported Sunday, according to the Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch Center morning briefing. The fire is about 15 acres as of Monday morning, Burks said, and crews have constructed lines around the entire fire.
Five engines, two hand crews and a bulldozer are working to improve the fire line and containing the fire, he said.
Weigh Station Fire
Crews worked through the night with cool and calm weather conditions to build fire line on the Weigh Station Fire near Meacham, according to an Oregon Department of Forestry press release from Jamie Knight Monday morning. The 500-acre fire is about 35 percent contained.
The lands north and south of Interstate 84 from the weigh station on Deadman Pass to Emigrant Springs State Park remain on Level 2 evacuation status — “set” in the “ready, set, go” system. Residents seeking shelter assistance can call the American Red Cross dispatch, 888-680-1455.
Interstate 84 remains open to travelers, but caution is advised due to smoke and firefighting operations along the freeway. The Deadman Pass rest area is open for westbound travelers, but the eastbound rest area is closed until further notice.