Fire Season continues

Daniel B. Wheeler dwheeler at
Tue Aug 14 12:19:53 EST 2001

>From The Oregonian, Aug. 12, 2001, p A26

Range fires burn across Southern Oregon
Firefighters battle wind and smoke to gain control of wildfires before
they can encroach on homes

The Associated Press

	Dense smoke hung over the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon on
Saturday, Keeping helicopters and air tankers from joining the first
agianst a 2,000-acre wildfire burning out of control on a remote
timbered ridge.
	Firefighters and sheriff's deputies were going door to door in the
town of Paisley, about 100 miles east of Klamath Falls, where a
2,200-acre fire was moving about 5 miles from several homes. Residents
were told to keep alert to fire reports but were not asked to leave
their homes, said Don Ferguson, a spokesman for the lakeview Complex
	Gusty winds and heavy smoke closed Oregon 31 east of the town.
	"We thought we had a really good handle on it, and this is what
happens when the winds and weather change on you," said David Widmark,
a spokesman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.
	Meanwhile, the Quartz fire, burning in the Yalw Creek area about 15
miles south of Medford, jumped from 300 acres early Friday to at least
2,000 acrews Saturday but did not immediately threaten any of the
scatteed homes in the area.
	Attacking the flames overnight wasn't possible, and the fire was
burning so hot that two firefighters were treated Friday for heat
exhaustion, said Ellen Weston of the Northwest Interagency
Coordination enter in Portland.
	After the fire quieted down during the cool of night, the initial
towering plume of smoke dissapated and hung over the valley Saturday
morning, keeping aircraft out of the area between Quartz and Lick
gulches, either to drop water and fire retardant or to map fire lines.
	"Burning on the gulch is in our favor," said Dennis Turco, a seasoned
firefighter with the Oregon Department of Forestry. "The wind has been
pushing it along the ridgeline, uphill to thesoutheast."
	Any change in wind direction or fire behaivor would bring
firefighters in defense of homes, he said.
	Firefighters were up against drought conditions that have left the
forest extremely dry, 100-degree temperatures, low humidity and
afternoon winds, Turco said.
	"It's fairly steep terrain," Turco said. "We can get bulldozers into
some of the area but not everywhere. It's going to take a lot of work
on the part of had crews."
	With nothing but trees and brush between her Spirit Gardens farm and
the fire, Kris Hoien said she wasn't about to let down her gaurd.
	"If the wind changes, we could be the next ones threatened," she said
late Friday afternoon. "It's right over the ridge from us. We're
running as much water as we can now to keep everything damp."
	Meanwhile, southeastern Oregon also was plagued by flames, set off by
dry lightning that moved through the area this week, including five
fires that nearly surrounded the tiny community of Rome, where about
30 live near the Idaho border.
	The Jackies Butte Complex fire has scorched at least 50,000 acres
since it began burning Wednesday night on Bureau of Land Managemetn
grassland 10 miles east of town, Weston said. It includes the Jackies
Butte, West Crater, Iron Mountain and Jordan Creek fires.
	Firefighters were re-mapping the area and expected to come up with a
larger acreage, Widmark said.
	The firest appeared to be heading away from Rome, but two historic
ranches - the Birch Ranch and the HOle-in-the-Wall Ranch - were
threatened, and residents said flames were too close for comfort.
	"We can see the smoke," said Joel McElhannon, who owns Rome Station,
a combination gas station and restaurant that is the town's only
	No evacuations were planned.
	Another large range blaze, the Jump fire on BLM land 75 miles
southeast of Burns, tripled in size to 30,000 acres from Friday. The
fire closed Orgon 78 at milepost 71, Widmarkd said.
	Other firest included:
	- The Christmas Tree fire in southeastern Oregon was controlled after
burning 750 acres.
	- The Virgin fire, near the Sheldon Antelope Refuge on the Nevada
border,burned 2,000 acres but was contained withthe help of a rain
	- The Indian Springs fire near Klamath Falls was under control after
burning about 1,600 acres. Firefighters also were working to gain the
upper hand on more than a dozen smaller fires in the area.

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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