Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

The extreme southwest corner of Baker County has proved to be a magnet for powerful thunderstorms over the past year.

And the South Fork of the Burnt River, a popular recreation area near Unity, has borne the brunt.

On Wednesday a gullywasher that dropped more than an inch of rain funneled flash floods into the South Fork and some of its tributaries, slathering roads and two Forest Service campgrounds with muddy flotsam.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest closed sections of four roads as well as the Stevens Creek and Elk Creek campgrounds.

Those two campgrounds, along with the nearby South Fork campground, had re-opened just a few weeks earlier after being closed last fall following severe damage inflicted by a thunderstorm-induced flash flood on Sept. 8, 2017.

“It was almost the exact same area as last year,” said Katy Gray, public information officer for the Wallowa-Whitman. “There is pretty significant damage.”

The closure order that Ryan Falk, acting Whitman District ranger, signed on Friday includes Road 6005, the main road up the South Fork, as well as sections of Roads 2640, 2655 and 6015.

Road 6005 is closed from near the South Fork campground to the road’s end. Road 6015, which is slated for repair work this summer due to damage from the September 2017 flood, is closed over its entire length.

Other campgrounds in the area that weren’t affected by the flooding are Wetmore, Yellow Pine and Oregon, all of which are along Highway 26 northwest of Unity.

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