Fire crews expect to contain a lightning-sparked fire burning near the edge of the Eagle Cap Wilderness Area about 14 miles east of Union.

The Amelia fire, which was reported Friday, has burned about 32 acres.

The Wallowa-Whitman National Forest employed regular suppression tactics with the Amelia fire, unlike the forest's approach with the Granite Gulch fire, which was started by lightning July 14 in the Eagle Cap Wilderness and reported by a hiker on July 30.

Under the policy in effect on the Wallowa-Whitman for more than 25 years, officials can monitor rather fight lightning-ignited fires in the Eagle Cap under certain conditions. Typically these are fires burning far from private property and with a relatively low risk of burning outside the wilderness.

The Amelia fire is about one mile from the wilderness boundary, and even closer to a parcel of private property along the North Fork of Catherine Creek, one of the few private inholdings in the Eagle Cap Wilderness.

The Granite Gulch fire has burned about 1,750 acres, although flames passed over some of that area, forest officials said.

Crews continue to monitor the fire under what the Forest Service terms a "confinement strategy." Officials called in a helicopter last week to dump water on a section of the fire, and firefighters also installed sprinklers to protect a bridge across the Minam River.

See more in Wednesday's issue of the Baker City Herald.

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