Driving the 46 miles from Baker City to Unity over Dooley Mountain is a winding route that for miles passes through the remnants of a scorched forest that offers little shade.
This is the aftermath of two major lightning-sparked wildfires — the 1989 Dooley Mountain fire, which burned 20,000 acres, and the 104,000-acre Cornet-Windy Ridge blaze, which swept through in August 2015.
This year the fire season hasn’t started thanks to the consistently wet spring.
But elsewhere, fire season pretty much never ends.
And that’s one reason Tom Cuellar was in Unity last week, training a crew of about 40 firefighters near the Burnt River School. Cuellar is the crew coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management’s Vale District, which includes public land the agency manages in Baker County.
“We’ve had crews come back from California on Christmas day, Thanksgiving,” Cuellar said.