Forest Service fire managers ordered a helicopter to drop water along the western and southern perimeter of the Granite Gulch Fire Monday and Tuesday. The objectives are to reduce the fire’s intensity while preventing its spread across the Minam River to the south or downstream to the west.

The fire was started by lightning on July 14 in the Eagle Cap Wilderness north of the Minam River.

The fire, which has burned an estimated 950 to 1,000 acres, has not crossed the Minam River. Firefighters will continue to suppress any fire that may cross the river. Tactics will include aviation resources and limited ground personnel.

On Monday the fire progressed out of Granite Gulch and into a drainage immediately to the east, called No Name drainage. As expected, a column of smoke from that drainage could be seen from Baker, La Grande, and Wallowa valleys. Today, the fire is moving east toward Wild Sheep drainage with little movement to the southwest.

"So far, I am pleased with the effects of this fire," said District Fire Management Officer, Nathan Goodrich. "It is following typical burn patterns in subalpine fir, and reports from the ground indicate beneficial effects in mixed conifer and ponderosa pine stands."

Forest Service fire managers are pursuing a confinement strategy that calls for active management of the Granite Gulch Fire to keep it within specific areas of the upper Minam River drainage and well-within the Eagle Cap Wilderness. Fire managers will continue to take appropriate suppression actions to meet multiple objectives:

  • · * keeping the fire confined to specific areas of the Wilderness,
  • · * allowing the fire to play a natural role in maintaining the ecosystem,
  • · * reducing hazardous fuels,
  • · * reducing the risk of future wildfires burning out of the Wilderness and onto general forest or
  • · private lands, and
  • · * reducing the risk that future wildfires pose to the public and firefighters.

Residents and visitors should expect to see and smell some smoke over the coming weeks. Even though the fire is located deep within the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area, a column of smoke may rise above the Wallowa Mountains when the fire is active.

Forest visitors who wish to travel through the upper Minam River area should contact the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest's Wallowa Mountains Office at 541-426-5546. Advisory signs have been posted at numerous trailheads. Although there are currently no trail or area closures, there may be a need for future closures to protect public health and safety.

Please visit InciWeb for updated information about the Granite Gulch Fire.

Please call 911 if you spot a wildfire. Keep in mind that fire danger remains HIGH across the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Public Use Restrictions (Phase A) and Industrial Fire Precautions (Level II) are in effect.