WATCH VIDEO: Tanker Drop
Firefighters worked through the day Tuesday to contain the Solitude Fire, burning across a steep desert bluff above the John Day River near Spray, Ore. Despite high temperatures and strong afternoon winds, the fire only grew by about 50 acres for a total of 750 acres by day’s end, with an estimated 30 percent containment.
The fire was first reported late Sunday afternoon although the cause is yet to be determined. State and federal firefighters, along with private contractors and the Wheeler County Rangeland Fire Protection Association, immediately responded to suppress the fire that evening. On Monday, multiple helicopters and air tankers fought the fire, using water and retardant to douse the flames climbing through dried grasses up steep inaccessible hillsides. BLM river rafts transported hand crews across the John Day River to work the fire from below.
Around 250 employees and a Type 3 incident management team are assigned to the fire and will continue firefighting efforts today.
The John Day River is a popular recreation area and the river is still open to boating and fishing even though helicopters are using it periodically to refill water buckets. Recreationists are asked to be aware of firefighting efforts and to keep a safe distance from aircraft if they approach the river.