Tribal Government & News

Tribe activates Emergency Operations Team in response to Willamina Creek Fire

By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

A wildfire burning north of the West Valley community of Willamina has prompted the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to activate its Emergency Operations Team to monitor the situation and coordinate a response with county and state agencies.

The fire, which has burned more than 100 acres of heavily timbered land in Yamhill County, is 4.8 miles from the northeast corner of the Reservation’s boundary and 10 miles from the community of Grand Ronde.

Currently, it is not considered a threat to the Grand Ronde community.

The Tribe’s Emergency Operations Team, headed by Emergency Operations Coordinator Jamie Baxter, was activated on Wednesday afternoon and met again on Thursday morning to monitor the fire’s progress.

Tribal Council has authorized the Emergency Operations Team to handle the situation and has directed Tribal staff to cooperate. “Tribal Council continues to monitor the situation and remains fully engaged and informed,” said Tribal Council Chair Reyn Leno.

The wildland fire started nine miles north of Willamina in the area of East Creek Road, which intersects with Willamina Creek Road. Oregon Department of Forestry spokesperson Jeri Chase said the cause is currently under investigation.

As of Thursday morning, Willamina Creek Road was blocked off at Coast Creek Road for area residents heading north.

So far, no structures have been damaged.

In reaction to the fire, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde closed its Reservation and timber lands on Thursday morning as tinder dry conditions and no forecast of rain continue in western Oregon.

The Oregon Department of Forestry has requested that the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department personnel assist it by covering Forestry’s patrol areas in Yamhill County while state personnel battle the blaze, which is 5 percent contained.

The Tribe sent 100 cases of water to Sheridan on Wednesday afternoon to assist those fighting the fire.

In addition, the Tribe’s Health & Wellness Clinic is prepared to assist area residents who suffer respiratory problems from the increased smoke in the air.

The Emergency Operations Team will be meeting throughout the day on Thursday to monitor and respond to the situation.

The Tribe’s Emergency Operations Team can be contacted at 503-407-2693 or 503-879-1677.

Updates also will be posted on the Tribe’s Facebook page, Twitter account and on the Tribal website at