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More than 3,500 acres burning in Joseph Canyon

Joseph Canyon, near the Washington and Oregon border, is a difficult place to fight fires, according to officials.

WALLOWA, Ore. — Extreme winds on Saturday complicated battling a nearly 3,700-acre fire in the Joseph Canyon near the Oregon/Washington border.

Though the wind challenged air resources that officials were utilizing to fight the fire, it also pushed the fire back on itself in some places. It remains burning in northern Wallowa County and southeast Washington about 23 miles southwest of Lewiston, ID. It began burning on June 3-4, caused by a lightning strike.

“This is probably one of the most difficult places to fight fire in Oregon,” said Matt Howard, deputy agency administrator for the Oregon Department of Forestry. “Joseph Canyon is known for its extreme terrain, communications challenges, and natural hazards.”

Officials said the cooler weather and higher humidity expected in the area on Sunday should slow the fire’s progression. Officials plan to continue using air resources to hold the fire back between Cottonwood Creek and Rye Ridge.

Four hand crews, two engines and three helicopters are currently assigned to the fire. The crews include personnel from the Oregon Department of Forestry, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, Vale Bureau of Land Management and Washington Department of Natural Resources.

Several ranchers in the area moved cattle out of the fire zone to allow firefighters access to the fire, as well as for the wellbeing of the animals. 

“The private landowners involved are no stranger to fire,” Howard said. “We have good communication with them and, given the circumstances, they are happy with the progress that has been made in battling this wildfire.”

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