One dead, 50,000 acres burn in Substation Fire

Northern Oregon southeast of The Dalles

Substation Fire

Above: Substation Fire. Incident Management Team photo, July 18, 2018.

(Originally published at 6:33 a.m. PDT July 19, 2018)

Since the Substation Fire started July 17 southeast of The Dalles, Oregon it has claimed the life of one person and burned over 50,000 acres. The fire has blackened an area approximately 18 miles long by 8 miles wide, and has jumped the Lower Deschutes River in at least two places.

The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office reported that at 1:30 p.m. on July 18 deputies answered a call about a burnt tractor. They found the operator a short distance away, deceased, apparently killed by exposure to the fire. The operator may have been attempting to suppress the fire by using the tractor and disk to construct a fireline. The release of the person’s name is pending notification of next of kin.

The Sheriff’s Office has the most current information about the areas under evacuation orders. They have boats patrolling the river to notify hikers and boaters.

Officials have closed Highway 97 from Biggs Junction to Highway 197.

The Governor declared the fire a conflagration Wednesday, which allows the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighting resources.

map substation fire
Map showing heat on the Substation Fire detected by satellites as late as 2:59 a.m. PDT July 19, 2018. The red icons are the most current. It is likely that in some areas light fuels such as wheat and grass burned and cooled in between satellite overflights, therefore was not detected by the sensors. Click to enlarge.

The area is under a Red Flag Warning on Thursday. The forecast for the fire area calls for 78 degrees, 25 percent relative humidity, and afternoon winds out of the northwest of 19 gusting to 27 — not good news for firefighters.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team (Schulte) has been assigned to the fire.

One structure has been destroyed, an often photographed historic home.

Substation Fire
Substation Fire. Incident Management Team photo, July 18, 2018.
Substation Fire
Substation Fire. Incident Management Team photo, July 18, 2018.

The video below was uploaded by the Incident Management Team to Facebook on July 18, 2018.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

7 thoughts on “One dead, 50,000 acres burn in Substation Fire”

  1. I wonder if the 9 available Hotshot crews sitting in north ops could help out on these fires. I bet they could.

      1. That’s the problem. The Gacc shouldn’t be able to hold on to a national resource. Plenty of type 2 IA crews they could hold on to for initial attack. That’s not what hotshot crews are for. There are no checks and balances in the system. Which allows Gacc’s to hold all the power for resources that should be used throughout the nation. NICC should have the ability to tell the Gacc’s we are taking your crews for this priority. Instead they send out all the type 2 ia crews while the hotshot crews sit. There’s no excuse to hold hotshot crews when there is a need for them on fires where they could make a difference

  2. EVERY SINGLE SEASON someone whines about resources being stashed or held back or not released … the folks at GACCs do not “hold all the power for resources”

    You should be embarrassed for even typing that in public.

    “There’s no excuse to hold hotshot crews when there is a need for them on fires where they could make a difference.” DUDE, if there was a need for R5 crews in R6 today then they’d be ordered up and dispatched and en route.
    =======================================
    Let’s just say that ODF and R6 et al. all got together this afternoon, put in orders for all the ‘shot crews available in R5, and the crews you’re barking about were dispatched tonight up to Oregon and Washington. Then let’s just say that the NorCal fires plus another 150 lightning starts and an arson fire and a half-dozen stupid-RV-driver and ORV-catalytic-converter and 3 braindead campfire hotdog camper fires all take off tomorrow … and R5 suddenly has limited resources because they shipped all those ‘shot crews north (because Rt99 and Md67 figured “there is a need for them on fires where they could make a difference.”)

    If you still don’t get it then try calling Redding and asking for Intel and offering your suggestions. I’m sure they’d welcome your input.

    1. Kelly, that’s because, every single fire season, it continues to happen!
      All it takes to effect change is one person in the right place to risk a little bit of his sorry tush and do his job. But at that level, we do not take risks. We do not extend ourselves like the Peak Performers who haven’t yet had the drive for excellence beaten out of them. We are here for the long term. If another 5,000 acres, a couple of fire rigs, some buildings or even a crew member gets burned, all those things can be weathered. Blame can be deflected, even to the immediate ground crews if need be. So, it burns; my job will still be here next season. And retirement, like the weekend, is always coming.
      If I’ve got any of this wrong, or if it can be better said, I am sure someone will tell me.

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