Fires continue, but 'Coast is clear'

Charles Kocher, Pilot staff writer

A complex of fires burning in Douglas County has become the top priority in national wildfire efforts, where more than 400 homes are threatened and little progress has been made on containment.

Meanwhile, fires burning in Curry and Josephine counties along the Rogue River also remain uncontained and challenging to firefighters because of the rough terrain and dangerous weather conditions.

Both the Bear Camp Road and upper sections of the the Rogue River Wild and Scenic Corridor will remain temporarily closed until further notice.

Coastal tourism officials are launching efforts to assure visitors that neither the fires nor their smoke are affecting their operations along the coast. The Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce, Jery's Rogue Jets and the Redwood State and National Parks have all started special marketing efforts to assure potential visitors that on the coast is is "business as usual."

"The Coast is Clear!" says the Gold Beach Visitor Center website. "Come cool off!"

The official Oregon Department of Forestry update follows.

This is an Oregon Dept. of Forestry (ODF) fire update forAugust 1, 2013.

Southern Oregon continues to be the focus of firefighting activity in the state with numerous large fires burning in the region.


The 28,496-acre, lightning-caused Douglas Complex fires are burning seven miles north of Glendale in Douglas County, and are 7 percent contained.

The Douglas Complex is now the highest priority nationally for resources.

Approximately 470 homes are threatened. The Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal is managing the fire jointly with Oregon Department of Forestry.

Oregon National Guard air and ground resources continue to be mobilized to the Douglas Complex, some will be helping with road and traffic control. The Governor has declared a State of Emergency for Josephine County.

Douglas Complex Special Message: In Douglas County evacuations are still in effect for Reuben Road, Mt. Reuben Road and McCullough Creek Road. Josephine County is also continuing evacuations for Poorman Creek, Lower Graves Creek Road, Grave Creek Road, and Lower Wolf Creek.

Current Situation: The Douglas Complex currently consists of Milo, on the east side of Interstate 5; Rabbit Mountain, on the west side of Interstate 5 and northwest of Glendale, Dad's Creek, west of Glendale, and the Farmer's Fire south of Glendale. The Oregon Military Department and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management are assisting with response to the Douglas Complex. The Oregon Army National Guard is providing aviation assets at the request of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Five aircraft are prepared to help with fire suppression including three HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and one UH-72 Lakota. Approximately 125 Soldiers along with 26 High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicles are also slated to be called-up on State Active Duty within the next 72 hours to assist with traffic control in the evacuated areas.


Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires, all less than 20 acres in size. Firefighters are patrolling these fires today. No further control problems are expected on these fires.

Rabbit Mountain

Near Middle Creek, firefighters continue to make progress on line construction as well as setting up hoses and water for use in extinguishing heat along the fire line. The containment line held yesterday with some mop up started.

Dad's Creek

The south end of the fire continues to burn actively near Grave Creek. Structural engines worked with hand crews to contain the spread of fire on the West end of Grave Creek road. Overnight, firefighters working in the Cow Creek Road area made good progress. Crews have been working to scout the areas on lower Wolf Creek to Grave Creek to provide structure protection needs. The structure protection task forces assigned to that division reported good results with continued active fire behavior.

In Josephine County, overhead personnel spent a large part of the day accessing the area and reported challenging terrain, limited access, and active fire conditions. Approximately 30 homes are being threatened in the Grave Creek, Poorman Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek areas.

Firefighters contained a spotfire that crossed Lower Grave Creek Road yesterday afternoon. Today, they will be removing any vegetation that may be considered a fire hazard around structures in Poorman Creek.

The fire is expected to burn actively again in the afternoon when winds start to affect fire movement. Areas around Glendale will see less smoke in the area today due to the change of wind direction from the northwest.

Weather: The red flag warning was lifted yesterday with the lightning staying to the east. Today, a cooler marine weather pattern is expected to move into the area. Temperatures will be lower and humidity a little higher. Winds will pick up in the afternoon, coming from the west and rotating northwest with gusts up to 20miles per hour. A drying trend is forecasted for the weekend.

Evacuations and Closures:

-- Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed. The public is asked to honor the road blocks and not interfere with firefighters working in the area.

-- Evacuations have been ordered for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County, and Poorman Creek Road, Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County.

-- Residences in the area are still considered threatened. This means evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future. Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County or Josephine County Sheriff's Offices.

Fire Information Meetings: A public meeting is planned in Wolf Creek tonight at6:00 pmat the Wolf Creek County Park. This is a change from the original planned location due to the capacity of the community center.

Public Safety/Prevention: Firefighters are contending with hazards including falling boulders and trees and old mine shafts, which are affecting access into some of the fire area. Values at risk include homes, commercial timberland, and critical wildlife habitat. There are no reports of homes burned. Two minor injuries have been reported. Two outbuildings have burned.

To address any concern as a result of smoke in the area, an air quality sensor has been installed in Glendale. Go towww.oregonsmoke.blogspot.comto track air quality measurements.

Douglas Forest Protective Association has increased prevention restrictions to IFPL 3, where a1 p.m.shutdown is in effect. Public restrictions are also in place. Checkwww.dfpa.netbefore commencing your activities.

Resources include 52 Type 2 hand crews, 78 engines, 18 bulldozers, 19 water tenders and overhead personnel, as well as National Guard and State Fire Marshal Office resources. Air resources include 3 Type 1 helicopters, 6 Type 2 helicopters, and 2 Type 3 helicopters, plus 5 National Guard helicopters.

The lightning-caused Brimstone Fire is now 1,711 acres. Crews continued aggressive suppression efforts and containment of the fire is now estimated at 15 percent. Crews will take advantage of the cooler temperatures and light winds today to reinforce the fire lines by laying hose throughout the trailed areas and cool the hot spots.

Extreme fire conditions still threaten the control lines. Spotting occurred last night and into the morning, up to 2 acres in size, but crews were able to control them. The fire team is preparing for increased winds and a warming trend startingFridaythat could affect fire behavior and pose hazardous conditions for firefighters.

Approximately 700 personnel are now assigned to the fire under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Resources include 26 crews, 27 engines, seven bulldozers, and 15 water tenders. No injuries to fire personnel have been reported since the start of the fire.

Fire suppression costs to date are approximately $4 million.The fire is being managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry with many cooperators including the Office of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County Emergency Services, Josephine County Forestry, Josephine County Sheriff's Department, Josephine County Search and Rescue, Rural Metro Fire Department, City of Grants Pass, and the National Weather Service.

No evacuations have been announced for residential areas around the fire area, but structural fire protection personnel have assessed homes should an evacuation become necessary. To find out more about evacuation planning, call the Josephine County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at (541) 474-5305.

Firefighters ask that the public not use roads in the Upper Quartz Creek Rd and Hogs Creek Rd areas because these roads are narrow and are being heavily used by fire engines, trucks hauling water, and bulldozers.

Information about the Brimstone Fire can be learned by calling (541) 479-3842.

Information about other fires in southwest Oregon can be had by calling the Joint Information Center (JIC) at (541) 471-6620.

Big Windy Complex is lightning-caused and now estimated at 3,703 acres. The Complex consists of the Big Windy (Josephine County), Calvert Peak and Jenny Fires (Curry County) and is located on Medford District, Bureau of Land Management lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry. It is burning in steep river canyon country and is 0 percent contained.

Location is approximately 8 miles northwest of Galice; the north part of the fire is within two miles of Winkel Bar on the Rogue River. Fire spotting has been a concern. Pacific NW IMT2 is assigned to this fire. The fire is currently moving in a southeasterly direction and is still south of the Rogue River; it has progressed down to the south near the old Biscuit fire scar.

Crews were transported by boat yesterday to work on structure protection for the Black Bar Lodge and Zane Grey cabin. Containment efforts continue on the south flank along the Bear Camp Road and also started working the ridge west of Calvert Peak Fire and completed andAcirc;1/2 mile of tree felling.

Air operations were not utilized yesterday due to poor visibility. Six medivac sites have been established for quick response to emergencies.

Closures in Place:

The Bear Camp Road is officially closed with closure orders and maps issued by the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management/Grants Pass Interagency Office and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest/Gold Beach Ranger District. The Josephine County Sheriff's Office and the Curry County Sheriff's Office are providing staffing at the closure points and signs are in place.

Rogue River Trail from Grave Creek to Rogue River Ranch is closed.

The BLM portion of the Wild Section of the Rogue River is closed from Graves Creek to Mule Creek due to extreme fire conditions and public health and safety issues.

Cooperating agencies and partners: Oregon Department of Forestry, Medford District Bureau of Land Management, Josephine County, Curry County, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The Ferguson Mountain Fire in Eastern Oregon, Lake Unit, was reportedSunday; this 15-acre fire is now 100 percent lined and is 98 percent mopped up.

A 10-acre lightning-caused fire burning in timber and brush on the Central Oregon District was reported last night threatening 12 homes in the Squaw Creek Canyon Estates 6 miles northeast of Sisters. This fire is now fully lined.

The 503-acre Davis Creek Fire burning in the John Day Unit of the Central Oregon District is 100 percent contained. The fire was burning in grass and timber fuels. There are still hot spots and the fire is in patrol status. Cause is under investigation.


The 3,948-acre, lightning-caused Whiskey Complex fire burning in timber six miles east of Tiller on the Tiller Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is 15 percent contained. The Complex consists of 4 fires, they are the Whisky Fire (2,250 acres), the Big Brother Fire (250 acres), the Buckeye Fire (550 acres) and the Smith Ridge Fire (30 acres). Continued dry weather is forecast. The incident is being managed by a unified command: Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team and the Douglas Forest Protective Association. For more information go to:

The 1,750-acre lightning-caused Labrador Fire (USFS) is burning in an area south and west of the Illinois River in inaccessible country approximately 30 miles southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Fire behavior yesterday continued to be moderated by smoke over the area. Suppression efforts are aimed at allowing the fire to slowly back down to the Illinois River on the south and east edges.

Suppression efforts are hampered by steep terrain and little road access, fire crews are also dealing with significant poison oak issues. Crews are continuing structural protection in Oak Flat and on private lands, and indirect fire line preparation. The structure protection at Oak Flat in Josephine County is nearly complete and fire fighters remain spike camped in the area in case they are needed.

*A public meeting will be held at the Josephine County building at 102 South Redwood Highway in Cave Junction at7 pmtonight. Information will be shred along with maps and presentations by fire managers.

Continued limited use of aircraft due to smoke over the fire, aviation resources being made available to other fires and will be re-engaged when smoke clears. Trail and road closures are in place. For more information go to:

The 108-acre Browns Creek Fire burning 17 miles northwest of Gilchrist near Browns Creek on Wickiup Reservoir is 100 percent contained. All campgrounds are now open and Forest Road 42 was opened last night.

More Fire News - Help Wanted to Determine Fire Causes

A series of wildfires that have occurred recently in the Blackwell Hill and Gold Hill areas of Jackson County are clearly human caused and likely intentional.

The Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District is asking the public's help in identifying the people responsible for starting these fires.

Please call the Southwest Oregon District office at(541) 664-3328if you have information that will help identify the people or the vehicle that started three fires on Blackwell Hill Rd around 5:00 p.m. on July 25. Another fire occurred on Monday, July 29, around5:00 p.m.along Hwy. 234 near the Gold Hill Sports Park.


Fire statistics are for the current year and the average over the past 10 years for the 16 million acres of private and public forestland protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

January 1, 2013, through today:*

Lightning-caused fires: 95 fires burned 717 acres

Human-caused fires: 419 fires burned 2,498 acres

Total: 514 fires burned 3,215 acres

10-year average (Jan. 1through the present date in the year):

Lightning-caused fires: 119 fires burned 5,424 acres

Human-caused fires: 344 fires burned 1,420 acres

Total: 463 fires burned 6,844 acres

Fire statistics can be accessed any time from the ODF website.

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