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Old 07-31-2013, 02:47 PM
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Thumbs down Re: SW Oregon really is on fire. In a bad way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fredaevans View Post
. Quite a breeze is starting to blow, which will go a long way in clearing the air. But it sure won't help the crews.

Fred
Boy did I get wrong! Wind started to clear up the air a bit, but it really kicked the fires into high gear. Worse smoke now than ever. This pretty current information on the fires in Oregon and two biggies in Washington:

"Over the past 24 hours, two relatively small blazes flared in the Northwest where crews are battling seven large wildfires that are continuing to spread.

And the outlook doesn't look good.

National Weather Service forecasters have painted much of eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington scarlet, with red flag warnings in effect.

"The forecast calls for abundant lightning, not scattered lightning," said Don Ferguson, spokesman for the joint fire information center in Grants Pass.


Five wildfires are raging through timber territory in Douglas and Josephine counties, prompting Gov. John Kitzhaber to declare a state of emergency.

Ferguson said that declaration will unleash the resources of various fire departments and help with structure protection, allowing crews to focus on wildland fires. The Oregon Army National Guard has provided five helicopters to fight the fires and about 125 citizen soldiers are waiting to be called up to help.

"We have our hands full," Ferguson said. "Initial attack resources are strained right now."

The fires has created hazardous breathing conditions in areas and created smoke that’s blotted out visibility. The smoke is hampering the efforts of firefighters and prompted the Department of Environmental Quality to issue warnings about unhealthy air.


The biggest concern in the area is the Douglas complex which has scorched more than 25,000 acres north of Glendale. The fires have forced the evacuation of 90 homes, put 40 other households on alert and closed Lower Wolf Creek Road, Union Creek and West Fork.

The Douglas complex remains 5 percent contained, with the Rabbit Mountain and Dad's Creek fires within the complex posing the biggest threat.

Ferguson said firefighters made good progress against the Whiskey complex east of Tiller in the past 24 hours, which is 10 percent contained. Those fires have charred nearly 3,100 acres.

Crews also made headway against the Brimstone fire northwest of Merlin, containing 10 percent of the blaze.

"That doesn't sound like much but it sure feels good to have a toehold," Ferguson said.

The fire has scorched 2,000 acres.

Even more timberland has been charred in the Big Windy complex of three fires northwest of Grants Pass, covering nearly 3,000 acres. They are zero percent contained.

The fires, which have burned down to the Rogue River, have closed Bear Camp Road and the Bureau of Land Management portion of the wild section of the Rogue River from Grave Creek to Mule Creek.

Big Windy is threatening Black Bar Lodge, campgrounds on the Rogue River, Rogue River Ranch and the Zane Grey historic cabin.

But Ferguson said officials are fairly confident that protection will keep those buildings safe.

The last fire in the area, located northwest of Cave Junction, has charred more than 1,700 acres. The Labrador fire is zero percent contained.

The one new fire in Oregon, dubbed Tiny Two, is burning south of Silver Lake. It has scorched nearly 140 acres and is 60 percent contained.

In Washington, crews are still battling two big wildfires -- Mile Marker 28 and Colockum Tarps -- along with a new fire, Moore Point, located northwest of Chelan.

The Moore Point fire, which is zero percent contained, has scorched 250 acres.

In comparison, the Mile Marker 28 and Colockum Tarps wildfires have charred more than 85,000 acres.

Crews have made progress against the Miler Marker 28 fire northeast of Goldendale, now 60 percent contained.

"Things are a little quieter today," said Randy Shepard, spokesman for the incident management team.

Crews have dug a line around the east side of the fire, only leaving a section on the far west unlined. But firefighters are bracing for a change in the weather, with the possibility of down drafts and erratic winds that could push the fire in a new direction.

"We're preparing for the worst and hoping for the best," Shepard said.

Crews have also made progress on the Colockum Tarps fire.

"The north side went really well," said Carol Connolly, spokeswoman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. "They're mopping up in and around structures," she said.

The incident management team also said the winds could be favorable on Wednesday, pushing the fire back itself. But it remains to be seen how the shift in weather plays out across the region.

"It's going to be an interesting day," Connolly said.

-- Lynne Terry"
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