JOHN DAY – At least 3 months before the usual onset of fire season, fire officials are dealing with a 100-acre fire in the Meadowbrook area, in north Grant County.

Rob Pentzer, John Day Unit forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said the fire was reported about 2 p.m. Tuesday. It is burning in light fuels, spreading through pine needles and grass.

He said ODF and the Malheur and Umatilla National Forests were alerted to the fire, which was reported to be burning on private and federal lands. Three engines were on the scene, he said.

He said the fire is expected to be extinguished tonight, with firefighters aided by the rain moving into the area.

The cause is under investigation, but Pentzer said the agency is reminding people who have done any burning over the fall and winter to “go back and check your piles for signs of heat.”

He said this fire comes at a time when the agency has not yet staffed up for fire season, making response difficult.

“We don’t have the money or the people now,” he said.

ODF announced earlier this week it will not issue any new permits for pile and slash burning after this Friday, although burn barrels and backyard burns are still allowed with permits. Some agricultural burns will be allowed on an exception basis.

For information on permits and restrictions, contact ODF at 541-575-1139 in John Day.

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