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Klondike Fire Drives South as Fire Crews Protect Selma, Cave Junction

Although crews have seen success in keeping the growing Klondike Fire from approaching the Redwood Hwy corridor, the fire has jumped the Illinois River and continues to move south.

Posted: Aug. 15, 2018 12:26 PM
Updated: Aug. 16, 2018 1:54 PM

SELMA, Ore. — With firing operations and the construction of control lines, crews on the Klondike and Taylor Creek fires have spent the last several days mounting a defense of Selma, Cave Junction, and the Redwood Highway corridor.

In many ways their efforts are working parallel to the fire's spread. On Saturday, the Klondike Fire spotted across the Illinois River Road and the river itself, spreading south on a route roughly mirroring that of the highway.

According to fire officials, three additional hot shot crews have arrived to assist with containment operations. Containing the fire's southward spread has become the focus of firefighting operations.

While containment has increased and evacuation levels have continued to be downgraded on the Taylor Creek Fire, the Klondike Fire prompted more Level 1 "Be Ready" notices on Thursday between Selma and the Oregon/California border on the west side of Redwood Hwy as the fire continues to move south.

Meanwhile, fire crews have continued to make progress in securing firelines both north and east along the Klondike Fire’s edge. Sustained, hard work constructing and securing line around the fires has helped to protect threatened property and provide for firefighter and public safety.

Crews have also been working along completed line exposing and extinguishing any hot material 300 feet into the fire interior. Efforts are being focused on confining and containing the south and east sides of the Klondike Fire to reduce the potential threat to the communities of Selma and Cave Junction. Progress is reflected in increased containment and a change in the fire line color from red to black on incident maps.

Excellent progress is being made constructing contingency line west of the fire, according to fire officials. Existing line from past fires and roads are being tied to together to construct contingency line—providing a barrier between the fire and the communities of Agness, Gold Beach and other communities on the coast. Heavy equipment is being used to re-open firelines constructed during past fires and tie together existing roads.

That contingency line will eventually be tied into the Illinois River and will be used, as needed, to check the spread of the fire in the event east winds push the fire to the west. An operational plan and inventory of supplies needed is being developed in order to secure and hold contingency lines west of the fire.

On Thursday, the Klondike Fire stood at roughly 59,105 acres with 15 percent containment—a growth of several thousand acres over Wednesday, but a significant slowdown from the runaway growth seen over the weekend. The Taylor Creek Fire still burns on roughly 49,695 acres with 52 percent containment.

Winds out of the northeast could reduce smoky conditions in the Selma area Friday and Saturday, according to fire meteorologists. This would allow aircraft to more effectively assist with suppression efforts along the southern and western perimeters.

Bear Camp and Peavine Roads remain closed. The risk of trees and debris falling on these roads continues as firefighters mop up areas of the Taylor Creek Fire.

For more specifics on evacuations and closures in Josephine County, go to our article HERE.

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