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Hurricane Creek Road opened to forest boundary; trailhead still closed

The Hurricane Creek Road in Wallowa County near Joseph is now open to the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest boundary, but the Hurricane Creek trailhead and trail remain closed due to a wildlife that has been burning in the area since earlier this week.

Fire blackens 3,300 acres

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald One of several helicopters drops retardant on hot spots.

By Jayson Jacoby

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The flames were moving so fast, Clay Gyllenberg said, that even with a bulldozer he couldn’t carve fire lines quickly enough to block the blaze.

“When the wind gusts came up it moved at such a high speed,” Gyllenberg, of Baker City, said this morning.

The terrain through which the Radio Tower fire burned Thursday, in the sagebrush rangelands north of Interstate 84 about four miles southeast of Baker City, wasn’t conducive to rapid firefighting, either, Gyllenberg said.

“It’s extremely rocky,” he said. “You can’t even get through with a cat (bulldozer) in some places.”

Although the fire wasn’t officially contained this morning, Carolyn Chad, a spokeswoman at the BLM’s Vale District, said “we believe we have it corralled.”

The smoke plume that dominated the southeast skyline from Baker City most of Thursday had dissipated by about 5:30 p.m.

See more in Friday's issue of the Baker City Herald. 

Radio Tower fire "corralled" BLM official says this morning

The Radio Tower fire, which burned more than 3,000 acres of mainly private rangeland just southeast of Baker City Thursday, is not official contained, but a BLM official said this morning that "we believe we have it corralled."

The cause of the fire, which was reported about 9:30 a.m., remains unknown, said Carolyn Chad, a spokeswoman at the BLM's Vale District.

See Friday's issue of the Baker CIty Herald for a story and photos from the Radio Tower fire. 

Freeway open in both directions

Interstate 84 is open again in both directions throughout Northeastern Oregon after being closed earlier today due to a range fire about three miles southeast of Baker City.


Live-stream of gubernatorial debate here today at 10:15


Incumbent Governor John Kitzhaber and Rep. Dennis Richardson, R-Central Point, will participate in their first debate at 10:15 a.m. today in Salem.

The 90-minute debate, which will take place during the Oregon Newspspaper Publishers Association convention, will feature a panel of five Oregon newspaper reporters, editors and publishers quizzing each candidate.

Fire burning on Lone Pine Mountain southeast of Baker City

S. John Collins/Baker City Herald: A range fire burns this morning about three miles southeast of Baker City.

Nancy Peyron narrates as she watches an air tanker drop hundreds of gallons of retardant ahead of the fire that is burning the grazing land she and her mother, Elizabeth, co-own southeast of Baker City.

"They just dropped another load," Peyron said about 12:30 p.m. as she watched from near Interstate 84 about three miles southeast of Baker City.

It's still not certain what caused the fire that has burned at least hundreds of acres of sagebrush and grass near Lone Pine Mountain, which is north and east of the freeway where it rounds a corner and drops into Baker Valley.

Peyron said the blaze apparently started about 10 feet from the network of cell phone, radio and other towers atop the 5,000-foot mountain which, despite its name, is treeless except for a few scattered junipers. 

As of 2 p.m. the fire had burned to near Interstate 84, Peyron said.

Peter Murphy, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Transportation, said the agency is watching the fire and taking preliminary precautions in case the freeway would need to be closed. 

There are no homes in the immediate vicinity but there are several ranches on the south side of the freeway, near Old Highway 30.

2014 Miners Jubilee Schedule

Kathy Orr/Baker City Herald: The annual Miners Jubilee parade starts Saturday at 10 a.m. in downtown Baker City.


• 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Friends of the Library annual book sale, Baker County Library, 2400 Resort St.

• Noon to 7 p.m. —Vendors open in Geiser-Pollman Park and at the Events Center at Baker County Fairgrounds, 2600 East St.

Family Fun area in Park: bounce house, obstacle course, face painting and games sponsored by Kiwanis, Homestead Realty/Tasha’s Treasures.

• 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. — Penny dig in Family Fun area for ages 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12 each period, sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank

• 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. — Sidewalk Sales on Main Street

Smoke from distant wildfires fouls Baker's air

Baker City's air has been hot but clean this July.

On Wednesday it was hot and a bit dirty.

Smoke from distant wildfires — some as distant as Canada — cast a pall over town Wednesday and pushed the city's air quality from the "good" category into the "moderate."

But just barely.

The city's air quality index (AQI) Wednesday was 57, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Two decades, and still bullish about the future

Baker City’s Bull Riding Event Celebrates 20th Year 

By Coby Hutzler

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With this weekend’s Miners Jubilee comes another edition of the feted Broncs & Bulls competition. 

Made up of separate bull and bronco riding events, the competition’s two $25,000 cash purses have become some of the biggest in the region. 

As a result, competitors travel from Australia, Canada and from across the United States for their shot at victory.

And it all started with an idea.

‘Straight up’

Ken McPheron of Baker City is president of the Broncs & Bulls event, and he has overseen it each year since it started as a bull riding competition in 1995, working closely with his wife, Shirley.

Ken, 75, has been involved in rodeo his whole life, attending his first while he was still in diapers and riding his first bull when he was 14. 

“I’ve had every bone in my body broke,” he said.

See more in Wednesday's Baker City Herald. 

The Heat Is On

Lightning sparks blazes; city, state and feds impose fire restrictions 

U.S. Forest Service photo Smoke from the Hurricane Creek fire in the Eagle Cap Wilderness billows above Highway 82 in Wallowa County. The lightning-caused fire has forced the closure of the Hurricane Creek trailhead.

By Jayson Jacoby

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Northeastern Oregon’s reprieve from the fire season is over.

A series of lightning storms, combined with the hot, dry weather that has dominated during July, has brought more than a dozen wildfires to the region this week.

And with no significant change in the weather forecast, local, state and federal agencies will soon impose more stringent fire restrictions.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, starting Saturday, will prohibit the use of chain saws between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day.

Firewood cutting is still allowed, but chain saws can’t be used during that seven-hour period.

Also taking effect Saturday on the Wallowa-Whitman is a ban on driving motorized vehicles off designated roads, or on roads that are blocked by an dirt berm, logs, boulders, gates or other barricade.

The Oregon Department of Forestry on Tuesday instituted a regulated use closure, which tightens fire restrictions on lands the agency protects.


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