Highway 730 closed as crews battle wildfire

Contributed photo by Mary Kate Rivera. Fire burns along the Columbia River east of Hat Rock Sunday evening.

Highway 730 was closed from Cold Springs Junction to Wallula Junction for most of the day Monday as agencies battled a wildfire that grew to more than 10,500 acres by the evening.

Umatilla County Fire District 1 operations chief Jim Forquer said the district got called to the fire about 5 p.m. Sunday night, and as of Monday morning it had spread somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 acres, continuing to burn throughout the day. The cause of the fire is unknown.

“We’re concerned about fire behavior and the weather expected this morning,” he said Monday morning, calling the fire’s patterns “sporadic.”

By 5:30 p.m. Monday, Forquer said that fire crews had a “pretty good handle” on containment and were moving into the mop-up phase.

Forquer said Umatilla Rural Fire District, Echo Fire District and other area districts were also on scene, as well as the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said area farmers were also helping disc fire breaks.

Some Hermiston-area residents experienced interruptions to their electricity Monday afternoon as the fire neared Umatilla Electric Cooperative’s Juniper Canyon substation and affected some transmission lines to the Hermiston East Substation. Forquer said the Juniper Canyon substation was shut off briefly as the fire approached but that concern was mitigated.

Temperatures reached over 100 degrees Monday afternoon, with more of the same in the forecast for Tuesday.

“People need to use a lot of caution the next few days,” Forquer said. “With the hot and dry conditions the fire danger is getting worse every day.”

Updated road closure information is available on www.tripcheck.com and updated power outage information is available on outageviewer.umatillaelectric.com.

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