GRANTS PASS, Ore. – The Medford Mustangs moved into the AAA Legion State Tournament winner’s bracket with a 7-4 win over the Post 20 Dirtbags while the Grants Pass Nuggets fell into the loser’s bracket thanks to a 8-2 loss to the Corvallis Gerding Builders. Highlights are included.
WIMER, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry responded dozens of fires on Wednesday evening, but ODF officials said the most concerning is the Salt Creek Fire.
The fire was one of the latest to develop sending a smoke plume up on the north side of the Rogue Valley about 10 miles Northeast of Wimer.
The fire was initially seen by an aircraft spotter, and quickly escalated from just a few acres to 25 acres in a matter of minutes. By sunset on Wednesday night, the fire is estimated to be about 60 acres.
The fire was near the top of Sprignett Butte, and fire fighters had a hard time finding a good vantage point to begin fighting the flames.
“It’s in deep rugged country, so the primary job to start out with is getting good access into it so we can get the bulldozer in,” said ODF Fire Prevention Specialist Brian Ballou.
Officials say this is a fire that will likely get worse before it gets better, and brought in aircraft assistance to try to line the fire before sunset. At this point, the fire is not threatening any structures. There is no estimate on containment yet.
Stay with Newswatch 12 for additional updates.
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore.– A human was determined to be the cause of the fire burning at Four Mile Lake. Forest Service officers figured out where it started and gathered evidence. Now they are interviewing witnesses and following up on several leads.
South Central Oregon Management officials said the Launch Fire is also being turned over to a Type II Incident Management Team to manage suppression operations. Forest officials said this is because of the location and complexity of the fire. They said it has heavy fuels and lot of snags.
The fire remains around 100 acres. There are still road closures in the area of the lake, as well as Great Meadows Sno-Park. The park is currently being used as a helibase for incident helicopters.
Hundreds of lightning strikes illuminated the landscape this afternoon and evening. Storms began firing early this afternoon, and continued for several hours. A fire weather warning is in effect Wednesday, then another becomes effective Thursday afternoon – for good reason. A handful of fires have already been sparked in northern California and southern Oregon, and the lightning threat returns on Thursday.
Thunderstorms that develop Thursday will most likely be more isolated in nature than those Wednesday afternoon. That’s because we will see less instability, less available moisture, and a more southwesterly flow aloft. With daytime heating, another round of storms will develop Thursday afternoon, but activity will be more focused in Siskiyou County and along and east of the Cascades. However, there may also be a few storms that enter mainly southeastern Jackson County (as was the case Tuesday evening), but that’s about as far west as they are expected to reach. There will be another bout of frequent and dangerous cloud to ground lighting with Thursday’s thunderstorms.
As for the heat, today was the twelfth triple digit day in Medford. If Thursday proves to be as hot as forecasted, it would be the thirteenth. It’s been mentioned before, but this July is on track to be the hottest on record for Medford. What that means is that when the overnight low and afternoon high are averaged for each day, the average for this July is higher than the 1911 record. This July’s average temperature, so far, is around 79.6 degrees. The 1911 July average temperature was 78.9 degrees, which means this July has already, unofficially, broken the record. However, if only high temperatures are taken into account, so far this July would be the second hottest on record.
Chief Meteorologist Kate McKenna
ASHLAND, Ore. – In light of stormy conditions and numerous fire starts in the area, Ashland Fire & Rescue is advising all residents to prepare for evacuation, even those who don’t live near any of the areas being affected.
Spokespeople with the department say those who wait until an evacuation notice is issued often forget important items. They advise all residents to have a meet-up place in mind, have a pack with food and supplies for up to 72-hours, keep a full tank of gas in the car, and have all important insurance documents in-hand.
They also say to pack other things well in advance just in case.
“Any medications, medications aren’t easy to come by, especially if they’re prescription. You probably want to make sure you have a charger for your electronic devices,” said Division Chief Margueritte Hickman.
If you have any questions about evacuations, Ashland Fire & Rescue operates a 24-hour hotline.
That can be reached at 541-552-2490 or online at www.ashlandcert.org.
GRANTS PASS, Ore.– [UPDATE 11:50 P.M. Salt Creek Fire Burns Near Wimer]
Crews are monitoring about two dozen fires in areas outside of Grants Pass and Ashland.
The newest reported fire is near Sprignett Butte. In just about 20 minutes, the fire jumped from zero to 25 acres.
As of 6:30 p.m. fire crews were still on the way, but a recon plane is monitoring the situation. Oregon Department of Forestry officials said they are really concerned about this one right now.
ASHLAND, Ore.– Another fire has evacuation orders in effect for anyone in the Wagner and Anderson Butte area. Officials said anyone working or living in the area of Wagner Creek Road between mile marker 11 and 12 needs to leave.
Another fire outside of Ashland off Upper Applegate Road also has crews on hand. The smoke from this fire could be seen throughout Southern Oregon and Siskiyou County.
Reports of a fourth fire is also being investigated in the Mount Ashland area. Newswatch 12 has calls out for more information. Stay with us for the latest.
MEDFORD, Ore. — Officials at the U.S. Forest Service are reporting that from fire lookouts and aerial reconnaissance done this morning, they have identified thirty four confirmed fires have ignited on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest as a result of Tuesday’s thunderstorms in the area. The starts are located on the Siskiyou Mountains and High Cascades Ranger Districts.
Twenty eight fires are located on the High Cascades Ranger District with concentrations of new starts in the Rustler Peak, southern Sky Lakes Wilderness and Griffin Pass areas. The largest of these fires is the Camp Creek Fire near the Rustler Lookout estimated to be 10 to 15 acres in size. There are currently engines, hand crews and a helicopter working this fire, with air tankers on order. The other fires are holding at less than an acre in size and are being staffed with rappelers, hand crews and engines at this time.
On the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District six fires are located within or near the Ashland Municipal Watershed. All of these fires are staffed and reported at less than an acre in size.
Lookouts and reconnaissance aircraft continue to watch for additional starts from Tuesday’s storms. A Red Flag Warning is in effect this afternoon and evening for the southern Cascades and Siskiyou’s for additional lightning.
The forests of southwest Oregon are experiencing tinder dry conditions and are extremely combustible. Firefighters want to remind the public that human caused fires are preventable. Please be aware of current fire restrictions and be careful with anything that could spark a fire.
KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — The “Launch” Fire near Fourmile lake is still burning and is gaining heavy fuels because the area is covered with snags and spot fires are occurring. Fire crews are continuing to work on a containment line and also working indirect areas to mitigate hazards.
The following special restrictions and prohibitions are remaining on all Forest roads, trails, and within the specific area on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Klamath Ranger District as ordered by the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership Team: Forest Trail 993 (Twin Ponds Trail,) from its intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail to its intersection with Forest Road 3661 at Four Mile Lake Campground. Forest Trail 3759 (Badger Lake Trail,) from its intersection with Forest Road 3661-560 to its intersection with south boundary of the Sky Lakes Wilderness. Forest Trail 3712 (Lost Lake Trail,) from its intersection with the Sky Creek Wilderness boundary to its intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail. Four Mile Lake Campground is closed.
In addition the Great Meadows Sno-Park has been closed for public safety as it is being used as a helibase for the incident helicopters to refuel.
FOURMILE LAKE, Ore. – An off-duty firefighter staged near the Launch Fire at Fourmile Lake died Tuesday night in what officials are calling accidental in nature.
According to Sgt. Darren Frank at the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, 21-year old Matthew David Goodnature, of Phoenix, Oregon was taking a walk away from his fire camp at about 6:30 p.m. when the accident happened.
Detective Nick Kennedy with the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case, and said he cannot draw any conclusions until his investigation is done. However, it appears that Goodnature tripped on a large rock and fell backwards. Scruff marks and other traces indicated Goodnature fell on a log, breaking his lower back.
He says little other information is available because nobody was near the scene at the time.
“We’re looking at all the information we can get at this point in time,” said Kennedy. “We’ve done interviews with all of the people in his fire crew that were out there.”
According to investigators, crews realized Goodnature was missing after doing a headcount at camp. They then conducted a grid search, finding him more than three hours after what is believed to be the time of the accident.
X-rays are being done and an autopsy will reveal exactly what happened later this week. Right now there is no evidence of foul play.
Goodnature worked for Pacific Oasis Wildland Firefighting out of Ashland. The Phoenix Police Department have notified next of kin.
GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A Rogue Community College security officer at the Redwood Campus in Grants Pass was allegedly assaulted Tuesday night and Oregon State Police are investigating it. The officer said she was injured by an unknown assailant while on patrol on campus.
On July 29, at about 10:15 p.m., OSP Southern Command Center dispatch received information of shots heard near the soccer field at RCC. About seven minutes later, OSP received another report of an alleged assault to a female security officer at the community college.
Two OSP troopers and medical personnel arrived on scene about fifteen minutes later. A trooper contacted security guard Venise Hollinshead, 37, who works for Tac-One Security. Hollinshead said she was standing outside when an unknown male approached her from behind and struck her in the head. To protect herself, she initially tried to pepper spray the alleged assailant who grabbed at her gun in a holster. During the struggle for the firearm, a round was discharged before the suspect fled on foot toward the track field into a wooded area.
Hollinshead said she fired two rounds from her handgun as the suspect was fleeing. The suspect is described as a 6-foot tall male wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and dark clothing. Hollinshead was transported by ambulance to Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass for minor cuts and scrapes.
Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call OSP Southern Command Center dispatch at (541) 776-6111.