JOHN DAY - Heat and strong evening winds fanned two wildfires in Grant County, one just south of John Day in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness and the other near Kimberly.

The Cougar Creek Fire grew to 700 acres over the weekend and was burning in brush, grass and juniper about 10 miles south of John Day. The steep terrain of the wilderness fire challenged firefighters. Smokejumpers and rappel crews were sent to the fire, which was considered 15 percent contained as of Monday, July 27.

The Oregon Department of Forestry reported that the fire was spreading to the north, burning north from Berry Creek and east from Cougar Creek.

The McGinnis Creek Fire is burning in grass, timber, brush and juniper. The ODF said the fire was 20 percent contained on Sunday, but afternoon and evening downslope winds plagued efforts to stop the fire's spread. That spread was aided by "fingers" of fire that spread from the perimeter.

A Northwest Area Coordination Center report on Sunday listed the fire at a little over 2,800 acres, but ODF said Monday the actual acreage was 2,410. Some 76 structures were threatened by the fire.

Three helicopters, 24 engines and 462 firefighters were working the blaze, the ODF reported.

The cause of both fires remained under investigation, officials said.

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