Solitude Fire Reaches 50 Percent Containment

The Solitude Fire, located about 5 miles west of Spray, Ore. along Highway 19 and the John Day River, is now 50 percent contained and holding steady at 750 acres in size.

First reported Sunday afternoon around 6:30 pm, the fire quickly grew to more than 500 acres, burning in dry, grassy fuels on steep canyon walls above the John Day River. An interagency response of wildland firefighters set to work suppressing the fire that evening and more resources arrived throughout the day Monday to bolster the firefighting effort. Around 260 people and a Type 3 incident management team are now assigned to the fire. Responders include state and federal firefighters, private contractors and the Wheeler County Rangeland Fire Protection Association.

Due to the steep terrain and difficult access, aircraft have played a critical role in suppressing the fire. Numerous helicopters and air tankers are assigned to the incident, making pass after pass each day dropping loads of retardant and water on the flame front to slow the spread. BLM river rafts are transporting hand crews across the John Day River to attack the fire with boots on the ground from below.

Five structures in the area are potentially threatened, including one primary residence with associated barns and outbuildings, and four historic homestead cabins.

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 as they approach the river.




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