Big Windy Complex May Cross River

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MERLIN, Ore. – In two days the Big Windy Complex has grown from just over 6,000 acres, to over 9,000 acres. Now one of its three fires is threatening to jump over the Rogue River.

Fire officials say infrared shots show the Jenny Fire moved north over the river, but infrared shots are too imprecise to know for sure. While crews hike the banks to verify, commanders in charge of the firefight say it wouldn’t have much of an impact on their strategy.

“The corridor for the river is extremely narrow, so we figured there was a good chance that it would cross,” said Deputy Incident Commander Chris Hoff.

Hoff says contingency lines are being made north of the river in case it does cross. But their primary focus is still farther south as that’s where more of the fire activity is.

“[Our line] is three dozer blades wide. And then once that’s completed we’ll come in with our hand crews and burn those fuels out,” said Hoff.

Overall, officials say the firefight is going according to plan. But with over a thousand people working 16-hour days, it’s taking its toll.

“We have very steep terrain, it’s been very hot, and also windy,” said Public Information Officer Sarah Saarloos.

Several firefighters have suffered broken bones, and many others have endured cuts or sprains from the steep terrain.

But officials say they have a job to do, and the support from the community is making a difference.

“After a long sixteen hour day, it helps with the motivation,” said Saarloos. “They appreciate that.”