Slick Ear Fire sends smoke into the air above Umatilla National Forest

Umatilla National Forest
Image via U.S. Forest Service - Umatilla National Forest, Facebook

LA GRANDE, Ore. — If you are in the area of the Umatilla National Forest, you may notice some smoke in the air. Firefighters and forest officials are observing the Slick Ear Fire, which has been active since Sept. 14 but more recently reached heavier fuel.

In a social media notice, U.S. Forest Service officials posted at the Umatilla National Forest’s Pomeroy Ranger District brought attention to the fire and shared a photo. They described Slick Ear as a “small fire’ that is visible within the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness region.

They first discovered the fire following a lightning storm and sourced it approx. 28 miles northeast of Elgin, Ore. Roughly one mile north of the Wenaha River, the small blaze has spread across rougly 10 acres of natural land in a region that’s difficult for forest officials and firefighters to reach.

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During their initial attempt to reach the area, fire crews tried to brave the rugged terrain, but called off their effort since it became too dangerous. They learned that the blaze stayed alive by consuming brush, dead trees and timber.

They have reason to believe the fire spread to more dense natural fuels, which is causing the smoke to be more visible than before. Helicopters have been deployed in recent days to help keep the blaze contained. They’ve called hotspots, which run the risk of reigniting natural land in certain conditions.

U.S. Forest Service officials did not mention any danger or restrictions being put in place because of the Slick Ear Fire.

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