Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Firefighters have made progress on a lightning-sparked blaze on the west side of the Elkhorns, but difficult terrain, heavy fuels and continued hot weather have made it a tough job.

“We’re certainly not out of the woods with this one yet,” Willy Crippen, fire management officer for the Burnt-Powder Fire Zone, said this morning about the Baldy Creek fire.

The fire was reported about 11:30 a.m. Saturday about one mile from the Baldy Creek trailhead along the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway. The blaze is about five miles southwest of Anthony Lakes.

The fire is burning in the North Fork John Day Wilderness, and crews have to hike about a mile to reach the fire, Crippen said.

About 35 people are working on the fire today, with help above from helicopters dropping water.

Crews have built a control line around the main 10-acre perimeter, but the challenge is finding, and dousing, the many spot fires that have started outside the perimeter, Crippen said.

“It’s a tough fuel situation, and we have very limited water supplies,” Crippen said. “We’re not going to be able to get a hose lay in there.”

Although the fire is within the wilderness, due to the potential danger to firefighters, they are allowed to use motorized equipment, including chain saws, that normally are prohibited in wilderness areas, Crippen said.

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