Wildfire danger temporarily closes entire Umatilla National Forest
PENDLETON, Ore. — The United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service decided to close the entire Umatilla National Forest to the public due to extreme temperatures and multiple wildfires in the region.
This decision is proactive in nature. By closing the forest altogether, Forest Service leaders can keep the public out of harm’s way as crews combat and contain fires across the forest.
Authorities say that hot and dry conditions in the region have made firefighting efforts more difficult. Teams have been working actively to suppress two fires near the Pomeroy Ranger District: The Lick Creek Fire (64,792 Acres) and the Green Ridge Fire (595 Acres).
Additionally, the Elbow Creek Fire (9,000 acres) emerged on the Walla Walla Ranger District on Thursday, throwing another wrench into regional firefighting efforts. Forest Service representatives say that fire suppression crews are being stretched thin and that they cannot afford to allow people in the park because of it.
Closing the Umatilla National Forest not only protects citizens, but it allows firefighters to focus on the task at hand knowing that people are not endangered by these fires.
With this closure in effect, the public is prohibited from entering any part of the national forest at any time. Forest officials are vacating campsites and informing all visitors that they’ll need to rethink their plans. Violating a park closure may result in a Class B misdemeanor, an appearance in federal court, a fine up to $5,000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, and up to six months in prison.
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