Fire burning on Oregon side of Hells Canyon

Fire burning on Oregon side of Hells Canyon
Mountain sheep in Hells Canyon in an area burned by the Cactus Mountain fire. Photo by Graig Ekburg

IMNAHA, Ore. - Roads and trails near a wildfire that has burned almost 8,000 acres on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon are closed, and fire bosses encourage hunters in the wilderness south of the fire to clear out, although no formal evacuatin order is in place.

The cause of the Cactus Mountain fire remains under investigation, fire managers said.

The fire has forced the closure of Dug Bar Road at Fence Creek, north of Imnaha, a route sometimes used by hikers, hunters, boaters and anglers.

The Snake River remains open to public boat traffic between Lightning Creek and the Imnaha Rapids adjacent to the fire.

Notices posted on 30 vehicles parked at trailheads warned that the fire could burn into the area this week. 

Fire managers want to make contact with hunters who have packed into the backcountry south of the fire.

On Sunday, firefighters attacked the fire from the air and the ground. Crews worked down from Summit Ridge and up from the Snake River to pinch the fire off.

Firefighters are protecting riverside and ranch buildings in the area and aggressively fighting any new starts.

A lightning storm on Sunday hit on the Idaho side of Hells Canyon, but no new fire starts were detected there.