Southern Oregon Fires Quiet Wednesday
The good news concerning the plethora of fires burning in Southern Oregon is Wednesday was a relatively quiet day, primarily because of the weather. The winds died and fires growth was minimal. There were no new evacuations or road closures.
The flip side of the good news is those very conditions produced the smoke that sent the air quality index in the southern valleys plummeting into very unhealthy or hazardous levels.
A press conference held at 4:00 Wednesday afternoon on the lawn at the Grants Pass Interagency Office on Spaulding Avenue held to one over riding theme. Controlling and extinguishing these fires are going to be a long term process (think fall rains). The fires will be lined, suppressed and controlled but no estimate can be placed on a time frame.
The Big Windy fire, 25 miles west of Grants Pass, now at 2,914 acres, staffed with 186 fire fighters, currently has structural fire fighters stationed to protect the Black Bar Lodge, the Zane Grey cabin and the Rogue River Ranch while incident commanders continue to map an indirect, long term strategy that will contain the burn to 48 to 50 thousand acres.
The Labrador fire, 13 miles west of Cave Junction, and burning into the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, are still fortifying the area around the residences in the Oak Flat area and solidifying a long term plan.
The largest complex, the Douglas fires, with 25,396 acres burned, with an army of 1,387 fire fighters fighting to stop its spread, has been reinforced with the mobilization of the Oregon National Guard with air and ground support. The Ground support will be primarily traffic control with the air support consisting of heavy lift Blackhawk helicopters and a Medevac helicopter with lift capability that can be utilized by all of the fires in the area.
The Brimstone Fire, 10 miles northwest of Merlin, has been the quietest of all the fires but still carries a dangerous potential. The quiet time has enabled the firemen to strengthen lines and assess any home in the area and to station structural fire fighter to defend them if possible.