NEAR ASHLAND, Ore. – Howard Prairie Lake Resort was transformed into an incident command center and fire camp Monday, as crews positioned themselves closer to the Oregon Gulch Fire burning outside Ashland.
More than 1,000 firefighters and support staff are expected to be camped there by Tuesday. Previously, the fire camp had been set up at TouVelle State Park outside White City, as crews battled both the Oregon Gulch Fire and the Salt Creek Fire, which is burning near Wimer. The positioning meant that crews had a 50-mile journey from camp to the Oregon Gulch Fire, and crews were working long hours because of the trip. Now, crews have a much shorter distance to travel to the fire lines.
“They were getting back later and not getting them enough rest as we’d like them to have,” said Joe Touchstone, Public Information Officer.
The new camp at Howard Prairie is being outfitted with telephone lines and internet access, and will bring in shower units, portable toilets, and plenty of food for fire crews. Firefighters have been fed by the Howard Prairie Restaurant, but Touchstone said caterers would be brought in Monday night.
The restaurant and store at Howard Prairie Lake are both still open to the public. The north campsites are also still available for public use, but the south sites are being taken up by the fire camp. The boat ramp had already been closed because of low water levels. Other parks nearby are also still open to the public.