Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

A human-caused fire that started Thursday afternoon along Brownlee Reservoir burned about 2,000 acres of grass and brush and poses a potential threat to wind turbines and a radio repeater.

The fire was reported about 2:30 p.m. about 10 miles north of Huntington.

Investigators haven’t determined the exact cause, but the blaze apparently started near the Snake River Road, said Kevin Moriarty, fire ecologist for the BLM’s Vale District.

Flames spread quickly through sun-cured grass, including large areas of cheatgrass, Moriarty said.

Gusty winds also fanned the fire and added to the challenge for firefighters working in steep, rocky terrain on a day when temperatures topped 100 degrees in the Snake River Canyon.

“With the extreme temperatures right now and the extremely dry fuels, there’s really high potential for rapid fire growth,” Moriarty said.

This morning seven engines, two bulldozers, three 20-person crews and multiple aircraft were working on the fire, known as the Morgan Creek fire for the Snake River tributary about four miles north of where the fire started.

The fire burned from near the Snake River Road to the west, away from the reservoir.

The fire burned some power poles on an Idaho Power Company line, but had not damaged any other structures, Moriarty said.

The fire cut power to 55 Idaho Power customers in the area, said Brad Bowlin, a spokesman for the Boise company.

Idaho Power crews will repair the damage as soon as possible, but as of this morning, with the fire not contained, repair crews could not get to the area, Bowlin said.

See more in the Aug. 4, 2017, issue of the Baker City Herald.

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