Wildland firefighting crews continue to suppress the Solitude Fire, located halfway between Service Creek, Ore. and Spray, Ore. along Highway 19 and the John Day River.
First reported at 6:30 pm on Sunday, July 8, the fire is burning in dried grass and brush across a steep slope above the river. An initial size estimate put the fire at 500 acres and another assessment Monday afternoon raised that estimate to 700 acres with 10 percent containment. The cause is still under investigation.
Around 140 personnel and a Type 3 incident management team are assigned to the fire. Due to the difficulty of accessing the fire by foot or by vehicle, aircraft have played a large role in the suppression effort. On Monday, four air tankers and six helicopters fought against fire spread with multiple retardant and water drops. Five 20-person hand crews are also assigned to the fire and are being transported to the fire across the John Day River using BLM river rafts.
Crews will continue their firefighting efforts today, Tuesday, in order to stop the fire before a predicted heat wave sets in throughout the latter half of the week. Several structures in the area are potentially threatened, including one primary residence and four historic cabins. Spray is five miles up river.
The John Day River is a popular recreation area and the river is still open to boating and fishing even though helicopters are using it periodically to refill water buckets. Recreationists are asked to be aware of firefighting efforts and to keep a safe distance from aircraft if they approach the river.