The second-biggest town in Baker County is beginning to shrink as firefighters douse the diminishing number of hot spots in the Bear Butte fire about 21 miles northwest of Baker City.
That town is the fire camp at the Elkhorn Wildlife Area, where state workers feed elk during the winter.
The camp’s population, which peaked at about 530 earlier this week, had dropped to 452 this morning, said Robin Vora, a spokesman at the fire camp.
That puts it just ahead of Huntington, population 445.
Fire managers have been able to release crews to work on other blazes because the Bear Butte fire hasn’t been growing, Vora said.
The 499-acre fire, which was reported about 2 p.m. on Aug. 4, was 65 percent contained this morning, Vora said.
Investigators have not determined the cause of the fire. There had not been lightning in the area for several days before Aug. 4, when an employee from Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort saw smoke.
Vora said an infrared map of the fire Thursday showed no areas of intense fire, and only scattered hot spots. Of those, the biggest concern for fire crews is along the north edge of the fire, where winds could potentially push flames toward the control line there, Vora said.
“For the most part things are going very well,” he said.
See more in the Aug. 11, 2017, issue of the Baker City Herald.