Green Ridge Fire retardant line

Crews drop red fire retardant along the Green Ridge Fire's edge, helping to slow the fire's spread on July 16, 2021.

Columbia County has issued a Level 2 evacuation order — be ready to leave — for some areas south of Dayton near the creeping edge of the Green Ridge Fire that's burned for nearly a month, since lightning sparked the Umatilla National Forest fire on July 7.

Meanwhile, other large wildfires continue to burn in the region, including the Elbow Creek and Lick fires, as summarized below. Additional information on wildfires can be found on the state's Department of Natural Resources' website: dnr.wa.gov/wildfires.

Green Ridge Fire

The Green Ridge Fire, located 30 miles east of Walla Walla and south of Dayton, has burned 9,039 acres and is at 15% contained as of Friday, July 30. There are 268 fire personnel working this site.

Hot, dry weather conditions caused increased fire activity Thursday, July 29, with fire spread in the western, southern and eastern portions. Due to the fire’s growth, evacuation notices have been elevated in some areas.

A Level 2 evacuation notice — be ready to leave immediately — is currently in effect, extending east to the National Forest boundary including Bald Butte Mountain and south to the border between Columbia County and Wallowa County. It extends west to the forest boundary and north to Chase Mountain. From Chase Mountain, it extends to Middle Point Trail Head to Midway Campground.

A Level 1 evacuation order — be ready to leave if conditions worsen — was also issued for areas within the forest boundary north and west of Chase Mountain.

Friday’s weather posed additional concerns for fire behavior. An unstable atmosphere combined with hot temperatures and low humidity may result in critical fire weather conditions. A meteorologist will be releasing instrument balloons over the next several days to measure the winds and atmosphere conditions near the fire.

Fire officials are concerned that northeast winds may accelerate fire along steep drainages and allow the fire to jump long distances.

Elbow Creek Fire

The Elbow Creek Fire, approximately 31 miles southeast of Walla Walla, has burned for weeks on both sides of the Grand Ronde River. It has burned 22,955 acres and is currently at 57% contained. There are currently 1,015 personnel fighting this fire.

Fire crews have fully transitioned into mopping up the fire, with additional water tenders helping to keep water flowing during the next several days. A 10-person crew entered the Grande Ronde River Canyon on Thursday, July 29, along the Elbow Creek drainage to stomp out hot spots along the river.

Contingency work continues along the fire's north edge, where crews are improving roads and removing roadside vegetation to provide a backup containment line in case the primary fire break doesn’t hold.

Lick Creek

The Lick Creek Fire, about 20 miles southwest of Asotin, has burned 80,392 acres but has been 90% contained for days. Seventy personnel remain at the scene.

A Burn Area Emergency Response Team continues work on the Lick Creek Fire and will assess what areas are at greatest risk of post-fire runoff and flooding.

Other crews continue to mop up pockets of smoldering vegetation and patrol the perimeter as they work to finish containment of the fire.

A Level 1 evacuation notice remains in effect in Garfield County.

Emry Dinman can be reached at emrydinman@wwub.com or 425-941-5829.

Reporter covering agriculture, Walla Walla city and county government, and other topics.

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