The Cow Fire southeast of Prairie City is now 9,288 acres and 65% contained.
On Wednesday, lower humidity, brisk afternoon winds and a more unstable atmosphere allowed remaining unburned areas within containment lines to burn actively, according to a press release.
The fire expanded primarily on the unlined western flank, spreading farther west into areas burned by previous wildfires. Sparse fuels limited the fire’s spread on this flank. On the northern, eastern and southern flanks, the fire has reached the lines identified, built and reinforced over the past several weeks.
Crews worked to find and extinguish spots outside the containment line and continued mopping up areas immediately inside firelines, to create a wide, black, cold barrier to check and stop the fire’s spread.
There is a Red Flag Warning today for thunderstorms with abundant lightning and strong gusty winds from variable direction. This brings increased risk for firefighters and the chance of new ignitions. Rainfall may vary from just a few hundredths of an inch to more than one- quarter inch.
Crews will continue to search areas outside the line for spot fires. The total number of personnel assigned will decrease as the containment level rises. With the conclusion of fireline construction and hazardous tree removal near firelines, some heavy equipment will also be released.
The fire is now under the command of the Boise National Incident Management Organization team. This remains a full suppression fire. The strategy is to stop the fire where the risk to firefighters is minimized and the probability of success is maximized. The intensity and rate of spread of the fire will be checked where practical to keep the fire’s effects within a low to moderate range that preserves the largest, most fire-resilient trees.
A temporary flight restriction remains in place. The NOTAM is 9/9780. Please remember, the use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS, or “drone”) within the TFR is prohibited. Any drone incursion will force the grounding of all firefighting aircraft.
The 13 Road remains closed at the Deardorff Summit, along with the 16 Road between the Short Creek Guard Station (13/16 Road junction) and the 1665 Road/16 Road junction. The North Fork Malheur Campground is closed. A Closure Order is in effect for the vicinity of the 204 Cow Fire and surrounding roads. The Closure Order can be viewed on the 204 Cow Fire InciWeb site at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6526. As fire behavior moderates and containment increases, the need for road closures is being reevaluated and may be lifted in the next 24-48 hours.
The incident management team remains prepared to support initial attack of new fires if requested by local agencies. Firefighting equipment assigned includes eight handcrews, nine engines, two dozers, three heavy helicopters, one chipper, one skidder and two “skidgens” (skidders with mounted water tanks).