Fires

Update: Fire near Idaho-Oregon border 60 percent contained

Cherry Road Fire burns thru cheatgrass

Vale BLM fire ecologist Kevin Moriarty explains hoe fast-moving fire continues transformation of sagebrush steppe ecosystem on Oregon-Idaho border.(Rocky Barker)
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Vale BLM fire ecologist Kevin Moriarty explains hoe fast-moving fire continues transformation of sagebrush steppe ecosystem on Oregon-Idaho border.(Rocky Barker)

Firefighters from the Jordan Valley Rangeland Fire Protection Association and the Bureau of Land Management worked through the night Sunday to build a line to slow the spread of the fast-moving Cherry Road Fire.

Starting about 4 p.m. Sunday, they completed a 20-mile fireline with burnouts and bulldozers at the southern edge of the fire along Succor Creek Road by 7 a.m.

The fire was reported about 1 p.m. Sunday, at about 3,500 acres. By Monday morning, it was 31,210 acres nearly 10 times that size. By Tuesday morning the fire had grown only slightly: to an estimated 31,667 acres, said Bureau of Land Management public information officer Larry Moore.

Crews had also managed to get to 60 percent containment by Tuesday, he said.

About 100 people are working the fire.

If we don’t do this, our regular work goes away.

Rancher-firefighter Clint Fillmore from Jordan Valley

“If we hadn’t worked with the BLM, this would have been four times as large,” said association member Josh Mackenzie.

“Last night it was just blazing,” said Kari Clark, a Homedale resident who watched the fire. “You could see the whole hillside lit up.”

At 1 p.m. Sunday the fire was reported at about 3,500 acres. By Monday morning, it was 31,210 acres.

Clint Fillmore is the leader of the Jordan Valley crew of ranchers who make up the association, the members of which were watching aircraft drop water on hotspots in the canyons around Owyhee Reservoir at 6:30 p.m. Monday, more than 24 hours after they’d started.

“Winds pushed it all night,” said Fillmore. “There were a couple of times it almost got away from us.”

The Cherry Road Fire just across the Idaho border in Oregon is about 15 miles north and west of last summer’s 300,000-acre Soda Fire. Some of the area burned in the 2013 Owyhee Fire, as well as before that. The low-elevation native sagebrush is mostly gone, replaced with thick cheatgrass, which explains why the fire burned so fast and so hot Sunday.

BLM fire ecologist Kevin Moriarty of the Vale, Ore., District pointed to some unburned cheatgrass that had already replaced the sagebrush, about 15 miles west of Homedale. “That’s what you’ll see when the third fire goes through,” he said.

Lower temperatures might aid firefighters as they work to battle the blaze Tuesday.

“Hopefully that'll give s a little reprieve but there's no guarantee,” Moore said.

The cause of the fire is undetermined.

Rocky Barker: 208-377-6484, @RockyBarker

Erin Fenner contributed.

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