JOHN DAY — The Canyon Creek Complex fire has grown to 101,000 acres and destroyed another two residences and a guest house, but fire crews have made significant progress in protecting Prairie City.
Fire officials will address citizens’ concerns during a 5:30 p.m. briefing today at the Prairie City Grange hall.
The fire grew by 13,000 acres since Saturday, driven by high winds and low humidity. It is 49 percent contained.
“We saw the fire traveling at rapid speeds with the wind,” said Tommy Schroeder, a public information officer with the Great Basin Incident Management Team. “Yesterday, we had some extreme fire growth on the northeastern corner of the fire.”
But fire crews were able to create a fire line south of Prairie City and made good progress in their effort to protect that town, he added.
A light rain Saturday morning, as additional resources were being rushed toward Prairie City, helped control the fire long enough for firefighters to gain a foothold there, Schroeder said.
“The rain came at the most opportune time,” he said. “It kind of suppressed the fire enough to where the wildland crews and the dozer operators were able to get around it on the north flank, just south of Prairie City.”
But the high winds created an ember shower that forced firefighters to withdraw from some areas, and two homes and a guest house at the end of Indian Creek Road were destroyed, Schroeder said.
Parts of Prairie City were placed under a Level 3 “leave immediately” evacuation order Saturday morning as the fire threatened the city. But the entire city is now under a Level 2 “prepare to leave at a moment’s notice” evacuation order.
Schroeder said weather continues to be the biggest and most dangerous challenge firefighters have faced since the blaze started, but firefighters are gaining in their battle to protect Prairie City.
“We’re optimistic about this line that’s going into Prairie City,” he said.