GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Fire officials are calling the Beacon Hill fire a fitting end to the most active May in at least a decade. Crews continue to mop up the remnants of the fire that consumed roughly 115-acres of the Beacon Hill area of Grants Pass.
Officials say the fire was likely caused by a car driving up I-5 Northbound between mile markers 55 and 58. They say sparks from that car created multiple ignition points.
Around 70 crew members remain in the hills today. They say the fire was unusually severe for this time of year, but has been steadily dwindling over the past 16 hours.
At this point it is largely contained, and with minimal damage to the surrounding wildland.
Officials say damage was mostly limited to underbrush, and most of the trees will survive. They also say there were a few silver linings as a result of the fire.
Instead of damaging the soil, remains of that burnt underbrush will actually make it richer.
And now that the vegetation is burned away, it means less risk of fire for the next few years.
“It was just as well that the fire did burn early in the year because there was still enough green to the grass and enough moisture even in the deadwood,” said Brian Ballou, Fire Prevention Specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Ballou says the same fire in August or September could have been five times as big, and likely would have killed trees along its path.
Because that isn’t the case, he says they’ve been able to send back several fire engines already.
In total, the fire damaged two houses, but there were no injuries or power outages. All road closures have reportedly been re-opened.