By SUE RYAN
News staff writer
July 29, 2006
Firefighters from Hood River and Wasco counties headed out Wednesday afternoon to help protect structures from the McLean Creek fire burning in northeastern Oregon.
They went after Gov. Ted Kulongoski declared the fire as the state’s first conflagration of 2006. That announcement made it possible for State Fire Marshal Nancy Orr to mobilize firefighters and equipment to help protect structures.
Hood River Fire Chief Jeff Walker said this is the first conflagration the Hood River Task Force #1 has been called to since 2003 when they helped with a fire at Cascade Locks.
“It’s a mix of volunteers and paid staff who go and doesn’t deplete our local resources at all,” he said.
Hood River Assistant Fire Chief Devon Wells is leading the 17-member task force. Mid-Columbia Fire and Safety from The Dalles sent four firefighters and the remainder includes six from Hood River, two from Pine Grove, four from West Side and three from Parkdale.
“Anytime a conflagration is called within the region, we try to have personnel available to go and help,” Walker said.
The teams are part of 101 structural firefighters on the scene. The fire is burning east of Halfway near the communities of Oxbow, Pine Creek and Homestead.
As of Thursday night, the National Interagency Fire Command out of Boise, Idaho, reported the fire had grown to 28,000 acres and it listed as part of the Foster Creek Complex.
That designation merges the McLean blaze with the Foster Gulch fire. So far the blaze is only 10 percent contained. The cause is unknown but the fire began on Forest Service land in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.
The Hood River and Wasco County teams will be on site until the McLean fire is brought under control.