SELMA, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry has determined the cause of a fire that quickly flared up along Highway 199 in Josephine County over the weekend, attributing the fire to a catalytic converter in a vehicle traveling northeast toward Grants Pass.
ODF said that six fire starts were discovered between milepost 17 and 23. There were two smaller fires at milepost 17 and 19, and four starts near milepost 23. That second group grew into the main body of the Redwood Highway Fire, and more spot fires flared from there.
"At the points of origin, it was noticed by investigators that dry fuels were particularly close to the road, likely playing a role in the ignition," the agency said. "It is unlikely that the vehicle will be identified, however, if anyone driving in the area at the time of ignition has information, please contact the Grants Pass ODF office at (541) 474-3152."
Firefighters kept the wildfire to just six acres, but that required a swift and substantial initial attack. It shut down Highway 199 for a time as crews fought to keep it in check.
The Redwood Highway Fire was originally reported on Saturday around 6:30 p.m. as multiple small fires. Multiple agencies responded, including ODF Southwest Oregon District, Illinois Valley Fire District, Rural Metro Fire, Grants Pass Fire District, Applegate Valley Fire District #9, Rogue River Fire District #1, and the U.S. Forest Service Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.