BLM: 'Owyhee Fire burning nearly out of control'

Credit: Eric Turner/KTVB

BLM: 'Owyhee Fire burning nearly out of control'

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by Scott Evans

Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansKTVB

KTVB.COM

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 6:05 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 1:40 PM

BOISE -- Four wildfires are burning in Malheur County, Oregon and all of them were ignited by lightning in storms that rolled through the area Monday night. The largest fire is the Owyhee Fire.

As of Tuesday morning, the Owyhee Fire was 62 square miles. That's roughly the size of Meridian, Nampa and Star combined.

It's burning south and west of Adrian, Oregon along the Owyhee River near Owyhee Lake.

Jim Clouse is one of a handful of people that lives along the Owyhee River.

"Then it come over this way, and this is what we call Blackjack side over here," said Clouse.

He watched the fire continue to grow from his home Tuesday afternoon.

"It was real crazy,” Clouse said. “We had 50 to 60 mile an hour winds blowing, at least. Trees all these brush was everywhere here. But the fireball was all over the sky here. Flames and the ash were just unbelievable.”

The Vale District BLM is handling the firefighting effort.

"For us, with these temperatures and with the extremely dry fuels, this is about as bad as we could get it right now," said Carolyn Chad, BLM spokeswoman.

Because three other fires started in the same area Monday night, Chad says the initial attack on this fire was very limited.

Sheriff's deputies evacuated campers and warned homeowners.

"Our main focus last night was making sure those types of locations were protected," said Chad.

That left ranchers like Gary Cleaver to nearly fend for his 200 mother cows by himself.

"It went fast,” Cleaver said talking about the fire. “The flames went really fast, and you can't stop it. You've just to get out of the way.”

The wind, for now, is blowing the fire away from his cattle, relieving one fear and replacing it with another.

"There ain’t nothing for them to eat,” Cleaver said. “And it will take two to three years to get back if we get good weather.”

So now there's more waiting and watching.

"Now it's getting hot again, the wind is coming up and that's not going to help," said Cleaver.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fire was zero percent contained, with no time frame on when it will be contained.

Since we're approaching the 4th of July weekend, if you have plans around the Owyhee River or Owyhee Lake, you're asked to avoid that area for now and call ahead to see if the area is back open.

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