Level 3 “Go Now” and Level 2 “Get Set” evacuations remained in place Wednesday afternoon, according to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office.
Here is the latest from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s office on the efforts to battle the fires as of Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.:
HERMISTON, Ore. – Two fires began in Umatilla County on Tuesday, June 13, 2023: the Hat Rock Fire and the Mount Hebron Fire. Red Flag Warnings were in effect with high winds contributing to rapid fire growth, exhausting local resources. Governor Tina Kotek declared a conflagration on the evening of June 13, mobilizing the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) Green Incident Management Team (IMT) led by Incident Commander Lance Lighty and six task forces from Clackamas, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, and Yamhill counties.
Three task forces and the IMT arrived Tuesday night and began integrating and relieving local crews to continue operations throughout the night on both fires. Transfer of command occurred at 7:00 Wednesday morning with the arrival of an additional three task forces. The OSFM is collaborating closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry, which is assisting through a partnership by providing air resources and personnel to battle these fires.
When asked about the progress made, Chief Scott Stanton with Umatilla County Fire District #1 said, “We couldn’t have done it without the farmers’ disking line and the large community of volunteers who immediately responded.”
There are no reported injuries and the cause of both fires is under investigation.
Hat Rock Fire:
On Tuesday, June 13, at 10:59 a.m., Umatilla County Fire District #1 was dispatched to a brush fire at the intersection of Highways 37 and 730. Upon arrival, crews came across a rapidly-moving fire through grass and sagebrush. Mutual aid resources were quickly dispatched and Umatilla County Sheriff issued Level 1 and later Level 2 evacuation notices for Hat Rock State Park and RV Park. Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon State Police were dispatched to assist with road closures. The Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) activated a K-MAX helicopter through Immediate Response to assist in fire operations with funding made available from Senate Bill 762. The fire spread to the northeast, reaching the Oregon-Washington border by nightfall, pushing the fire through Juniper Canyon into Washington. The fire is now estimated at 15,000 acres in Oregon and the fire remains active as crews continue to strengthen containment lines and monitor flare-ups.
Mount Hebron Fire:
On Tuesday, June 13, at 2:08 p.m., Pendleton Fire and Ambulance was dispatched to a brush fire northeast of Pendleton near Highway 11. Additional mutual aid resources were quickly dispatched and several crews from the Hat Rock Fire were reassigned to the fast-moving fire. Local resources were able to stop the progress of the fire and by nightfall reported 99% containment at an estimated 600 acres. Resources remained on scene throughout the night and were supplemented by a responding state task force before the transfer of command this morning.
Crews worked throughout the night to strengthen containment lines, put out hot spots, and build contingencies on both fires, with no additional reported growth during the night.
Firefighters being briefed on the Hat Rock Fire in Umatilla County, June 14, 2023
The Hat Rock Fire does remain active in Washington and is being managed under the Benton Complex Fire. While the strongest winds have passed, winds are expected to continue throughout the day — out of the west-southwest, 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Winds are expected to decrease into the evening with a passing cold front decreasing temperature and allowing for good recoveries in relative humidity (RH). Evacuation levels remain in effect.
For up-to-date information on evacuation levels, please refer to the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Mutual aid provided was to Umatilla Rural Fire Protection District from Echo Fire Department, Irrigon Fire Department, Boardman Fire Rescue District, Pendleton Fire & Ambulance, Pilot Rock Fire District, East Umatilla County Rural Fire Protection District, Oregon Department of Forestry, Umatilla Tribal Fire Department, Gilliam County Fire Services – Oregon, U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs, Heppner Fire Department, Oregon Department of Forestry, and Oregon National Guard – Oregon Military Department.
For updates, please follow the Umatilla County Fire Dist. #1 Facebook page.