By Boyd C. Allen

Pilot Staff Writer

The Klondike Fire, now at more than 100,000 acres, has become a megafire, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the second – after the Chetco Bar Fire – in southern Oregon in two years.

The Southern Area Red Team took control of the West Zone Friday, at 6 a.m. Incident Commander Mike Dueitt said Thursday was a day of transition between the outgoing California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 and the incoming team, but the objectives were unchanged.

“A full suppression strategy is being used to minimize the total number of acres burned on all lands, while maintaining safety first,” Dueitt said. “The Red Team will continue to fight the fire aggressively while maintaining safe work practices to minimize threats to the public and emergency responders.”

Klondike West exhibited minimal activity, according to Dueitt, and little spread during the last 24 hours.

Thursday, firefighters strengthened existing fire lines and completed preparations for a planned firing of portions of the Wild Horse Road fire-line south of the community of Agness. The objective is to produce a blackened buffer 1,000 feet from the primary fire line. Daytime and nighttime shifts of firefighters are working.

Operations Section Chief Mark Jamieson reported plans for Friday to expand fire-breaks using Bear Camp and Wild Horse roads and using firing operations to widen lines below Agness and Oak Flat.

He said firing plans had been delayed due to weather and crews were evaluating the weather for future operations.

The western zone of the fire burned slowly Thursday, according to Jamieson, had progressed down Silver Peak and was moving toward Silver Creek.

On the eastern side of the fire, Incident Commander Craig Glazier reported fire personnel continued repair-work moving to the south end of the fires. Logging equipment, including a feller-buncher, processor and forwarder handled trees cut during suppression operations and moved them to a landing site.

From Inciweb

•The evacuation level in the Agness Zone remains at level 2 –– Be Set.

•The U.S. Department of the Interior – Bureau of Land Management – announced the closure of public lands along Bear Camp Road from the Merlin-Galice Road (Josephine County Road 2400 and 2401) to the Forest Service boundary, effective immediately.

•Weather –– cooler and more moist conditions will continue across the fire Friday, but the ridge winds will become northeasterly Friday night. Elevated fire weather conditions will prevail through the weekend as northeast winds continue. Relative humidity will fall into the teens each afternoon along with hot temperatures and poor to marginal RH recoveries overnight. The northeast winds expected over the next 48 hours will likely carry fire.

•Air quality –– Gold Beach, Brookings and Agness are predicted to maintain good to moderate air quality over the weekend.

Reach Boyd C. Allen at ballen@currypilot.com .

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