FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Distribution: Major Media
August 8, 2013 @ 10 p.m.
The Grouse Mountain Fire, a branch of the GC Complex, made a significant push early this evening when wind direction abruptly changed. Aided by strong north winds, fire runs have approached the limits of John Day along the northern boundary of the city. The Grant County Sheriff's Office has issued pre-evacuation notices for residences in three areas on the north side of John Day: Ironside, Valleyview, and Charolais Heights. At this time, there is no report of any damage to structures.
Fuels burning nearest to town are primarily grass and brush, with scattered juniper. Current acreage for the fire, previously estimated earlier today to be 2,000 acres, is not now known. Fire crews are engaging in aggressive initial attack, working through the night with dozers, engines, and hand crews to begin establishing containment fire lines. Steep terrain has made dozer and engine access difficult.
In addition to the threat to John Day, the fire - currently burning on private lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), is also threatening to cross over into the Malheur National Forest.
The fire is east of Highway 395, which remains open, but fire-related traffic in the area may be heavy.
Earlier today, two cabins were known to be within the fire perimeter, as well as two other structures near the fire area at that time that were threatened, but there are no reports of damage. The Mt. Vernon Rural Fire District has been providing structural protection.
The Grouse Mountain Fire is one of a number of fire starts in Grant County called the GC Complex ("GC" for Grant County) from Wednesday, August 7. ODF provided initial attack yesterday and today, directing suppression actions on the wildfire. Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team 4 was briefed on the situation earlier today and took over the complex of fire starts on various ownerships within Grant County at 6 p.m. tonight. ODF will continue working on the Grouse Mountain Fire as a branch of the larger GC Complex (GC for Grant County).
Current weather forecasts predict continued chances for lightning and erratic winds through the weekend. Safety hazards for fire fighters include rattlesnakes and falling snags.
The cause of the Grouse Mountain Fire remains under investigation.