Crews completed burnout operations on the Monument Complex fires Thursday, July 26. and the fire was listed as 55 percent contained.
Officials said some holding action will continue along the north and northwest fire perimeter, but most of the effort is shifting toward mop up operations.
Some aircraft have been released to support initial attack efforts on other fires, but three helicopters are still assigned to the Monument Complex. Approximately 50 percent of the fire line is mopped up 200 feet inside the fire lines.
Incident Commander Carl West said he was extremely pleased with the strong interagency cooperation and local support in the fire suppression efforts on the Monument Complex Fire.
"Our success so far is the direct result of the cooperation of all the agencies involved, our contractors, and the local communities." said West.
One firefighter was evacuated yesterday by helicopter from the incident for a medical condition not related to the firefighting effort. A second firefighter suffered second-degree burns to the face while mopping up a burning log.
Temperatures today will remain in the 90-100 degree range combined with relative humidity in the mid teens to low 20 percent range. There is a slight chance of late afternoon and early evening thunderstorms, with the possibility of late-afternoon down-drainage winds gusting to 20 mph.
The fire has spread over 54,000 acres since it broke out two weeks ago. Crews expect full containment by Aug. 1.
In all, 1,038 people were assigned to the fire. Road closures near Monument include Forest Roads 21, 23, 2307, 2105, 5320, and portions of 5316 and 5327 are closed.
In other fire news, lightning on July 26 sparked the Pole Creek Fire about four miles south of Unity Reservoir.
Firefighters from Oregon Department of Forestry and US Forest Service, along with two airtankers, two single-engine air tankers, two helicopters, and three dozers, stopped were dispathced to the fire and stopped it the same day. Structural firefighters provided structure protection for the buildings threatened by the blaze.
The Baker Task Force consisted of Keating, Haines, and Powder River Rural fire departments. The fire burned in heavy juniper and sage with stringers of timber. Winds pushed the fire toward one residence and several major outbuildings. Air resources were integral
in protecting the residence.
"The quick action taken by the Initial Attack Resources coupled with the support from heavy equipment and aircraft, kept this from becoming another major fire in the area," Mark Jacques, Oregon Department of Forestry Unit Forester.
Near Hines, firefighters had the Egley wildfire complex 100 percent contained and nearly 100 percent controlled, local Federal and State agencies are developing plans to re-open large portions of the closed area to recreationists, hunters and other public land users. Although no changes to the access restrictions will be in place by the July 28 weekend, officials are planning for a significant reduction in the amount of closed area by Aug. 4.
The closure of Federal lands west of Highway 395, north of Highway 20, south of the Izee-Paulina Highway along the Malheur National Forest boundary, and west of the Silver Creek Road near Riley has been in place since July 9, just three days after the Egley wildfire complex started.
Aside from working to re-open access in the fire area, agency officials and firefighters are repairing damages done by the fire itself and by the suppression activities taken to control the fire. The most immediate rehabilitation efforts include refurbishing dozer lines and cutting down hazard trees near roadways and recreation sites.
Stabilizing burned areas is also at the top of the rehab list, with efforts such as reducing the potential of erosion with log barriers, water bars on roads, mulching hillsides with hay, and seeding desirable species; seeding to prevent establishment of weeds; constructing fences to protect seed; and applying herbicide treatments to treat noxious weeds.
The last set of rehab efforts will be taken to repair or improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally without help and will be implemented over the next three years, but mostly within the next few months. Work will include chemical treatment and mechanical removal of invasive weed species, seeding, planting of tree and shrub seedlings, and repairing or replacing damage to minor facilities such as interpretive signs, livestock fences and wildlife guzzlers.
Although the Egley Complex is much less active now, potential for new incidents remains high across Harney and Grant Counties. Nearly twenty wildfires have sparked up since the July 23 storm, but most have been contained at less than 10 acres. Firefighters are expecting continued activity over the next three-four weeks, when wildfire season is typically at its peak.
The public is reminded of the extremely hot and dry conditions and the regulated fire closure currently in place within the Burns Interagency Fire Zone. The closure allows campfires only in designated campgrounds and prohibits all off-road vehicle travel, smoking out of doors, and parking a vehicle or operating an internal combustion motor in areas not free of vegetation.