Firefighters gain control of 39,526-acre Nena Springs Fire
Rain and cooler temperatures on Sunday and Monday helped fire crews gain the upper hand on the Nena Springs Fire on the Warm Springs Reservation, which had burned a total of 39,526 acres, and was 90 percent contained Wednesday morning.
The fire that was started by farm equipment on private property in the Wapinitia area of Wasco County on Aug. 8, rapidly moved to the north-east area of the Warm Springs Reservation and blew up to about 34,000 acres by Aug. 11, under hot, dry conditions.
During the first few days, the fire consumed a home and several outbuildings, threatening at least 100 other residences.
Evacuation was ordered for Simnasho, Schoolie Flat and the S-300 subdivisions on Aug. 10. However, that evacuation order was lifted on Aug. 13, and residents were allowed to return. Kah-Nee-Ta Resort, the Charlie Canyon and Wolf Point subdivisions and the Warm Spring Fish Hatchery were all under a Level 1 evacuation notice, which means to be ready, but that was also lifted on Tuesday.
In order to help bring the fire under control, Gov. Kate Brown mobilized additional resources from the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office on Aug. 11, to assist with protection of structures on the reservation, under an existing agreement between the state and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
"The Warm Springs fire quickly spread, has already caused property damage, and continues to pose a threat to the local community," said Brown last week, in announcing the assistance. "I ask residents to use caution and heed the guidance of local authorities, and to support efforts to contain the fire, I've directed the state fire marshal to make state resources available to the Warm Springs community."
Incident Commander Scott Magers, of the Blue Incident Management Team, and four firefighting taskforces with more than 100 firefighters were deployed, arriving Friday and Saturday.
According to Rich Hoover, public information officer for the OSFM, Magers has been working in unified command with the Northwest Team 12 commander, as well as BIA officials. "He is in charge of all the structural protection teams that we have deployed for the fire," said Hoover.
The Northwest Team 12, commanded by Richy Harrod, took charge of the fire, which was burning grasses, brush, slash and timber in rugged terrain, on Aug. 11. Total personnel on the fire had dropped to 300 on Aug. 16, with efforts focused on patrolling for hotspots, cutting and piling juniper trees along Highway 3, and reducing any threat from an interior pocket of heat near Simnasho.
Both Northwest Team 12 and State Fire Marshal's Blue Team returned management of the fire to the tribes at 6 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 16.
Ongoing efforts by the Warm Springs incident management team will include identifying fences and guardrails that were burned over the past week, as the fire covered 62 square miles.
The temporary shelter in the Warm Springs Community Center, set up by the American Red Cross Aug. 9, to assist those affected by the fire, was closed on Monday, as it was no longer needed.
The final update on the fire can be found at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5489.