A Northeast Oregon Interagency Type 3 Incident Management Team is now in command of the 85-acre Matlock Fire, according to a press release.

The incident management team, led by Incident Commander Gabe Hale, took charge of the blaze early Thursday, July 30. The fire, burning in timber on the Umatilla National Forest, is 13.5 miles northwest of Ukiah and was sparked by lightning on July 28.

Hot, dry conditions, along with gusty winds, initially pushed the fire north along Matlock Hill. The fire was detected through an Oregon Department of Forestry camera on Black Mountain. Large air tankers and fire crews on the ground were able to check the fire’s growth on July 29 and begin establishing containment lines. The Matlock Fire is now 40% contained.

Fire crews on the ground continue to construct containment lines along each flank and across the head of the fire, supported by water-dropping helicopters to cool and slow hot spots. Several small spot fires are being encircled by dozers. In some areas, mop-up has started — firefighters are searching the burned area to extinguish any pockets of heat that might remain.

The release said Hale’s goals include stopping the progression of the Matlock Fire before any private lands are burned and protecting natural and cultural resource values in the area.

Firefighting resources currently battling the blaze include three Interagency Hotshot Crews, one Type 2 handcrew, seven Type 6 engines, seven water tenders, three dozers and two feller-buncher/skidder teams. Aerial support includes two Type 1, two Type 2 and one Type 3 helicopter.

Hot and dry weather, along with the threat of additional thunderstorms, are predicted later on July 30, which could result in increasing fire behavior. Firefighters are taking precautions to prevent transmission of coronavirus. Information is being provided virtually, crew camping areas are dispersed and resources are being kept apart to the extent possible.

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