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UPDATE: Milepost 97 Wildfire is 50% contained, 100% lined

The Douglas Forest Protective Association says the Milepost 97 Fire is burning about 1 mile southeast of Canyonville, with smoke and flames visible from I-5.

Posted: Jul 25, 2019 5:49 AM
Updated: Aug 4, 2019 9:36 AM

Scroll to the bottom of this article for a frequently updated interactive map of the fire area and evacuation zones. For a separate interactive map where you can enter your address to find out if you are in an evacuation area, visit the Josephine County site here.


CANYONVILLE, Ore. --

UPDATE: The Milepost 97 Wildfire is now 50 percent contained. Crews say reaching the halfway point of putting this fire out is "an understatement." 

The line around the 13,119 acre wildfire was hand dug by fire crews and bull dozers. Today fire crews will focus on mopping up and preventing hot stops from crossing containment lines. 

Smoke from the interior of the fire may be visible the next few days. The level one evacuation notice is still in effect. 

(Updated: 8/04/19 at 9:30 a.m.)

UPDATE: The Milepost 97 Wildfire is now 100 percent lined and 45 percent contained. The wildfire has not grown much. It's at 13,085 acres. 

Crews will focus on mopping up hot spots around the perimeter of the fire. Then extinguishing all smokes and smoldering material within the first 20-50 feet of containment lines. 

The burned footprint is around 20 square miles, which is twice the size of Roseburg. Smoke from the interior of the fire may be visible the next few days. 

(Updated: 8/03/19 at 10:00 a.m.)

UPDATE: Evacuation levels for residence living on the 100-300 block of Ritchie Road, and on the west side of the freeway between  mileposts 88-83 have been reduced to Level 1 "Be Ready". That evacuation level includes all residence on Upper Cow Creek Road starting at Interstate 5 milepost 88, east to the base of the Galesville Dam.

Level 1 "Be ready" means to be ready to evacuate, have a "go kit" ready, an evacuation plan and be aware of the fire danger around your home.

(Updated: 8/02/19 at 11:00 a.m.)

UPDATE: As firefighters pass a week since the Milepost 97 Fire started, containment on the fire continues a slow but steady climb — now estimated at 30 percent.

"Burnout operations along the northwest and south edge of the fire were successful," the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said. "The southeast edge of the fire is currently 100% lined with fire hose with ongoing hazard tree removal and patrols monitoring for spot fires."

The fire size increased by 492 acres to a total of 13,070 acres, primarily due to controlled burnouts meant to strengthen control lines. Firefighters have laid down 23 miles of fire hose so far — expected to reach 36 miles by the end of the day.

"Crews will continue to secure and improve lines around the perimeter throughout Thursday, while evaluating unburned pockets within the fire area before expected warmer, drier weather arrives this weekend. Patrols continue to monitor for spot fires while maintaining protection for structures and I-5," ODF said.

(Updated 8/1/19 at 10:30 a.m.)


UPDATE: According to the latest update, firefighters were able to spare several thousand acres of timberland by cancelling a planned burnout operation — thanks in large part to favorable weather conditions that allowed firefighters to build lines directly on the fire's edge.

Fire officials say the fire has grown slightly to 12,578 acres and remains at 25 percent containment following an estimate released on Tuesday night. Fire activity was at its lowest in a 24-hour period since the fire began one week ago.

"While day and night shift crews garnered much success, fire managers are stressing that there’s a lot work yet to be done," officials said in the update. Crews will now be working to secure lines along the southern and western flanks of the fire while mopping up and patrolling through the north and east perimeter where the fire line parallels I-5.

Rick Barnes, President of the Douglas Forest Protective Association's Board of Directors, addressed the gathered fire crews at this morning's briefing — saying that "firefighters have earned their respect and appreciation for the tremendous effort they have put forward." Barnes reportedly said that the landowners impacted by the fire couldn't have asked for a finer effort from all firefighting personnel involved.

"By being nimble and agile, we took advantage of the opportunity. We were able to cut off about 2,300 acres that would have otherwise burned," said ODF's Al De Vos.

Fire officials estimate if those acres would have burned, the total cost of the fire would have increased by tens of thousands of dollars.

"Every change we get where it's safe, we're utilizing that to get this out as quick as we can and get it done," De Vos added. "When we're doing that, we're also saving money."

There will be an informational meeting about the fire and smoke on Facebook Live at 7 P.M. Wednesday night.

(Updated 7/31/19 at 9:50 a.m.)


UPDATE: Fire officials say the fire is now 25 percent contained. Firefighters have been successful with establishing control lines around the fire. Crews are now beginning to mop up the perimeter. The updated acreage will be released Wednesday morning.

(Updated: 7/30/2019 at 11:45 p.m.)


UPDATE: Fire officials say that crews have made "excellent progress" on the Milepost 97 Fire — thanks in part to more favorable weather conditions. The fire now covers an estimated 12,336 acres and is 15 percent contained.

"The continued moderate weather should allow for burn out operations planned for today that will help remove unburned fuel between control lines and the main fire," officials said in the latest update.

Firefighting efforts continue to be focused on suppressing the southern area of the fire near I-5 in an attempt to stop the flames from spreading toward communities to the south.

"Crews and equipment are also continuing to construct contingency control lines along ridges and existing road systems to the west of the fire," fire officials said.

The use of aircraft has helped firefighters get closer to the fire's edge by cooling areas along the flanks of the fire. Most of that air support has come from helicopters and single-engine air tankers (SEATs). The SEATs dropped 26 loads on the fire over Monday alone, totalling 18,549 gallons.

(Updated 7/30/19 at 9:35 a.m.)


UPDATE: Fire officials say the Milepost 97 Fire is being held at 11,668 acres and is now 15% contained.

Right now, there are 1,358 fire personnel working on the fire.


UPDATE: Fire officials are looking forward to a day of progress on the Milepost 97 Fire as weather conditions improve over Monday, according to an update from the Incident Management Team. Growing to 11,668 acres with 10 percent containment, there can be no question that the fire's former unimpeded growth has slowed.

“Today’s a great day for opportunity,” said Link Smith, Incident Commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry Incident Management Team. Smith addressed those words to firefighters at the Monday morning day shift briefing.

According to fire officials, the forecast shows a marine layer entering the area throughout Monday — bringing cooler temperatures, some cloud cover, and higher humidity.

"These conditions should allow fire crews closer access to the fire’s edge and the ability to perform burn out operations that removes forest fuels between established control lines and the main fire," fire officials said.

The fire continues to slowly expand southward on a parallel course to I-5. Firefighters and aircraft have been focusing suppression efforts on this area to keep flames away from homes. More than 500 structures are currently under evacuation notices of one sort or another.

There are currently a total of 1,044 firefighters assigned to the fire between the day and night shifts.

A firefighter hurt by falling debris over Sunday night has been treated and released from Rogue Valley Medical Center as of this morning, fire officials said.

(Updated 7/29/19at 10:30 a.m.)


UPDATE: The Oregon Department of Forestry says the Milepost 97 Fire is now burning 11,009 acres. It is 10% contained.

An additional fire division has been established on the east side of I-5 to anticipate any additional spotting across the freeway. Yesterday's spot fire grew to 20 acres before crews and aircraft could snuff it out.

The fire continues to move primarily in a southerly path, paralleling the freeway. Firefighters and aircraft are focusing much of the suppression effort on this south portion of the fire to prevent further spread towards communities.


UPDATE: The Oregon Department of Forestry says the Milepost 97 Fire is now burning 11,009 acres. It is 5% contained. ODF says strong winds overnight caused the fire to remain active. 

Overnight crews worked to contain spot fires. Today fire crews will continue working on spot fires and construct line along the I-5 corridor. Crews are making progress along the northern edge of the fire. 

The Oregon Department of Forestry says the estimated cost so far is $2,100,000. 

586 structures are threatened. Click here for the latest evacuation updates. 

(Updated 7/28/19 at 10:40 a.m.) 


UPDATE: At the latest estimate, the Milepost 97 Fire now covers 9,000 acres. Fire officials have yet to furnish an estimate on the fire's containment.

The southbound slow lane of I-5 has been closed for firefighter safety as they continue to battle to fire.

Authorities have issued expanded Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notices for all residences on the west side of the freeway between Interstate mileposts 88-83. For more specifics, visit our evacuation article here.

(Updated 7/27/19 at 1:15 p.m.)


UPDATE: As ODF's Incident Management Team settles in for the Milepost 97 Fire, the agency said that they expect more than 650 personnel working on the fire by Saturday. That number includes 25 hand crews.

Following its first planning meeting with local fire officials, cooperators and partners, ODF said that the team was now busy ordering more resources for fighting the fire.

(Updated 7/26/19 at 5:30 p.m.)


UPDATE: Fire officials now say that the Milepost 97 Fire has expanded to cover 6,000 acres, according to an update from the Douglas Forest Protection Association (DFPA).

"The majority of the fire growth has been to the south / southwest of the original fire and is burning through a mixture of private industrial timberlands, O&C Lands Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and lands held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Cow Creek Tribe," the agency said.

Fire crews on the ground remain engaged on the growing fire with support from seven helicopters, two large air tankers, and two single-engine air tankers. More crews, fire engines, and heavy equipment have been ordered and are on their way, DFPA said.

Incident Management Team 3 from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) arrived in Roseburg on Friday afternoon. Following a briefing from the fire officials already on the scene, the new team will take over command at 6 p.m. on Friday night.

"The objective set forth for the Incident Management Team is to extinguish the fire at the smallest footprint possible. Safety for the general public and firefighters is always the number one priority," DFPA said.

The Incident Command Post for the Milepost 97 Fire will be set up in Tri-City near Pruner Road and Industrial Way. Motorists in the area are asked to drive with caution due to an increase in fire related traffic in the area.

(Updated 7/26/17 at 3:30 p.m.)


UPDATE: The Milepost 97 Fire continued to actively burn through the majority of the night as expected, mainly pushing to the south and west. Currently, the fire is estimated to be 1,650 acres in size.

Firefighters have asked for additional resources on the fire. 

(Updated 7/26/19 at 7:00 am)


UPDATE: Douglas Forest Protective Association announced at 9:23 pm Thursday evening that the Milepost 97 Fire is now at 750 acres in size. In a press release, the DFPA said the fire is "burning in steep, rocky terrain with limited access."

(Updated 7/25/19 at 9:33 p.m.)


UPDATE: A level 3 or "GO" evacuation is now in place for people living in the 100-300 block of Ritchie Road.

Three homes are affected by this notice.

Level 3 or "GO!" means:
• If you chose not to evacuate, emergency services may not be able to assist you further.
• Grab your "go kit" and leave immediately.
• Follow your evacuation plan and stay informed.
"We strongly urge residents to leave their homes in the affected area as fire officials have determined there is a significant public safety risk," Sgt. Brad O'Dell said. "The Sheriff's Office is committed to working with the fire management team to ensure public safety. We ask that residents look to official sources to the most current information."


UPDATE: A level 2 or "Set" evacuation is now in place for people living in the 100-300 block of Ritchie Road. 

Three homes are affected by this notice. 

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office says, "This level indicates significant danger, if you decide to stay, be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice."

(Updated 7/25/19 6:48 p.m.)


UPDATE: The latest from from fire officials indicates that the Milepost 97 Fire has grown to cover 150 acres. The Level 1 evacuation notice for a several homes on Ritchie Road remains in effect. Meanwhile, officials are addressing rumors that matters are much worse.

"At this point, the majority of the fire is spreading up the hillside, away from I-5 and is not threatening the towns of Canyonville or Riddle or the community of Azalea. If additional evacuation notices need to be issued, fire crews will coordinate with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office to issue those," the Douglas Forest Protective Association said.

If there are further evacuations, the agency said, deputies will go door-to-door to notify residents of the change. There is also a Douglas County "reverse 911" system to call affected residents.

"All landline phones in Douglas County are in the reverse 911 system, however, cell phones and VoIP phones are not," DFPA said.

You can register your cell phones or VoIP phones to have them entered into the revers 911 notification system by submitting your information at www.dcso.com/alerts/.

(Updated 7/25/19 at 6: 10 p.m.)


UPDATE: As afternoon heat and winds reach a fever pitch, a towering plume of smoke has become visible over the Milepost 97 Fire.

Fire officials now say that the wildfire covers about 120 acres. More crews are on order to help contain the fire.

(Updated 7/25/19 at 4:50 p.m.)


UPDATE: The Douglas Forest Protective Association (DFPA) says that the Milepost 97 Fire near Canyonville has grown to 80 acres in size.

"Multiple aircraft and ground resources remain engaged on the fire," the agency said in an update.

Fire officials and the Sheriff's Office have issued a Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notice for residents living in the 100-300 blocks of Ritchie Road outside of Canyonville.

Level 1 or "Be Ready" means:

• Be ready for the potential to evacuate
• Have a "go kit" ready
• Have an evacuation plan for your family and pets
• Be Firewise and create a defensible space

(Updated 7/25/19 at 3:45 p.m.)


UPDATE: The Milepost 97 Fire has grown to an estimated 35-40 acres in size, according to an update from the Douglas Forest Protective Association (DFPA) on Thursday afternoon.

"Fire activity is starting to pick up as the temperatures increase," the agency said.

Fire officials say they have five helicopters working on the fire, and they have requested a retardant drop by Tanker 62 out of the Medford Air Tanker Base along the leading edge of the fire. Two more single-engine air tankers have also been requested.

DFPA said that they fire has been burning uphill and is not moving toward Canyonville. The southern flank of the fire has seen the most activity on Thursday.

"If you are driving through the area, please slow down and pay attention! Safety for the public and our firefighters is our number one priority," DFPA said. "Please do not take pictures or video of the fire while you are driving through the area (if you’re the driver) and do not stop alongside the freeway."

(Updated 7/25/19 at 1:25 p.m.)


UPDATE: The Douglas Forest Protective Association says the Milepost 97 Fire, located approximately 1 mile southeast of Canyonville, burned actively through the night and is now estimated to be 15 acres in size.

They say the fire has moved into a fire scar that burned in the late 1980’s and is in an area with a significant amount of standing dead trees with a heavy brush component beneath them. Crews stayed engaged on the fire overnight but were limited on where they could safely work in the dark due to rolling rocks and falling trees. Fire lines and hose lays were completed around about 25 percent of the fire overnight.

Fire crews say as of this morning, approximately 90 firefighters are working on the Milepost 97 Fire with additional resources on order. Two helicopters are also assigned to the incident and will be used throughout the day.

They say a preliminary fire investigation indicated that the cause of the Milepost 97 Fire is related to an illegal campfire.

The Milepost 97 Fire is highly visible from Interstate 5.

Motorists are asked to use caution when driving through the area as fire equipment and personnel will be working alongside the freeway.

Currently, no homes are threatened by the fire and no evacuations have been issued.

Smoke is visibile near Grants Pass.

(Updated 7/25/19 at 7:30 a.m.)


INITIAL REPORT: Firefighters are battling a wildfire near I-5 milepost 97 near Canyonville.

As of midnight Wednesday night, the fire was estimated to have burned seven acres.

Falling trees, rolling rocks, and strong winds have made fire efforts challenging.

Currently no homes are threatened by the fire and no evacuation orders have been issued.

One firefighter was transported to the hospital for a heat related illness.

Motorists traveling through the area are asked to drive with caution, as fire equipment and personnel will be working alongside of the freeway.

The cause of the I-5 Milepost 97 Fire is currently under investigation.

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