Wildfires continue to burn near The Dalles

August 18, 2013 

Western Wildfires Oregon

The Government Flats Complex fire burns south of The Dalles, Ore., Sunday evening, Aug. 18, 2013. Dozens of homeowners near The Dalles remain on alert as crews battle the Government Flat Complex of wildfires. Fire spokesman David Morman said the fires were 12 percent contained Monday morning, and had scorched about 3,000 acres.

BRENT WOJAHN — AP

Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team 3 and Oregon State Fire Marshal's Green Team have assumed fire suppression responsibility for the three wildfires comprising the Government Flat Complex approximately seven miles southwest of The Dalles.

All three fires, Blackburn, Government Flat, and Wells are lightning-caused fires detected on August 16.

The Blackburn Fire has increased in size to 700 acres. It is burning within the City of The Dalles Watershed in steep terrain with limited access for firefighters. The fire is on a mixed ownership of private and public land that includes SDS Lumber, LLC; Bureau of Land Management; and City of The Dalles.

Despite work by ground crew since detection and three air tankers dropping retardant continuously on Saturday, strong afternoon winds resulted in spot fires and an increase in fire spread into both the South Fork of Mill Creek and Upper Mill Creek drainages.

Protection of the downstream City of The Dalles water treatment facility and structures in the vicinity of the Blackburn Fire are high priorities for today. Establishing defensible control lines to halt the fire's continued spread will be challenging in the rugged terrain. Rattlesnakes and poison oak are additional safety hazards for fire crews.

The Government Flat Fire is 168 acres, a reduction from Sunday's less accurate estimate of 200 acres. This fire has been lined and officials are expecting the risk further fire spread to be low. The public may see increased smoke this morning from a planned burnout operation on the eastern flank of this fire.

The Wells Fire remains contained at 66 acres and will continue to be patrolled.

All fires are burning in grass, brush and oak, with some Douglas-fir, and ponderosa pine on north-facing slopes.

Governor Kitzhaber issued a Conflagration Act proclamation Saturday evening. State Fire Marshal's Office Green Team will be coordinating with Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue and resources from 24 other assisting Oregon fire departments on structural fire protection associated with these three wildfires. Today they will inventory and assess the threat to structures near the fires.

This morning 11 20-person crews, 10 engines, six bulldozers, three water tenders and three helicopters are assigned to the fire. Three air tankers are available if needed.

The Wasco County Sheriff has not issued any evacuation notices at this time, nor is the City of The Dalles water supply affected by the fire.

An incident command post has been established at Wahtonka High School in The Dalles.

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