This article will continue to be updated with the latest information from the U.S. Forest Service regarding fires on or near federally managed lands in Southern Oregon. For information on fires managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry in the Rogue Valley, click here.
(Updated at 1:09 p.m. on Saturday, July 28 with the latest reports)
Medford, OR — Forestry and fire crews with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and several Incident Management Teams from the U.S. Forest Service are currently fighting several fires burning deep in national forest lands spread across Southern Oregon.
Those fires include the Hendrix Fire southwest of Ashland and the Natchez Fire near Obrien—the two biggest fires on Forest Service lands—but there are a number of smaller fires spread in a virtual horseshoe around the Rogue Valley.
The Forest Service has responded to over 50 fires since July 15 and the majority of them are in some form of mop up or patrol, according to RRSNF.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect for strong, gusty winds with low relative humidity and high fire danger, which will likely contribute to a significant spread of new and existing fires. Warm and dry weather will continue over the geographic area today and through the weekend. Smoke has cleared over some of the fires, contributing to more active fire behavior today and possible column development this afternoon. Fire danger remains at or near record values for late July in many areas and will continue to climb through the weekend.
An increase in fire activity is expected for the Natchez and Klondike fires. Other fires across SW OR and NW CA are expected to remain active, producing the most amount of smoke in the mid to late afternoon. Poor air quality conditions persist throughout outlook area, ranging from unhealthy at the northern extent to moderate at the southern end. As fire activity increases, air quality is expected to deteriorate.
RRSNF's current catalogue of fires are reported as follows:
The Hendrix Fire southwest of Ashland is now at 1,081 acres and 70 percent contained, according to the latest update from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Fire crews expect to reach full containment by July 31.
339 personnel are assigned to the Hendrix Fire.
The Natchez Fire is at 3,777 acres and is 10 percent contained. The Klondike Fire is at 10,989 acres with only 5 percent containment.
The original Natchez fire burns south of Takilma in national forest land, however the name now includes the Klondike, Granite and Poker fires in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness west of Selma. RRSNF says that they chose to group these fires together under the Natchez Fire because the Natchez is the largest of all of them in that area.
On the west side fire managers are using the Chetco burn scar from last year to slow and hold the fire in place. Dozers are improving roads and trails just north of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness boundary where fuels are lighter and the terrain is more conducive to work by heavy equipment. Fire crews continue to work to the east of the fire, prepping roads and trails for alternate line construction and to improve primary control lines. This includes the 675 and 091 roads on the north as well as the 087 Road to the south.
1,109 personnel are assigned to the Natchez Fire.
Sugar Pine Fire
The Sugar Pine Fire consists of multiple fires west of Crater Lake National Park. Combined, those fires cover approximately 3,101 acres with varying levels of containment, entirely dependent on the individual fire.
There are 777 personnel assigned to the Sugar Pine Fire.
The major fires are named Sugar Pine, Round Top, Goodview, Junction and Union.
South Umpqua Complex
Primarily in Douglas County, this fire has now prompted evacuation notices in Jackson County from the Snowshoe Fire. The fire is located roughly 45 miles southeast of Roseburg, covers 10.707 acres and is 14 percent contained.
There are 1,289 personnel assigned to the South Umpqua Complex.