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AGNESS, Ore. — The Klondike Fire came alive on Monday, with rising winds driving flames to spread through dry foliage to cover an additional 7,600 acres throughout the day — all on the fire's interior, "well within containment lines," according to fire officials.
With Monday's growth, the Klondike Fire has now burned an estimated 154,663 acres with containment remaining at 72 percent.
Smoke columns rising above Montana Spring, Little Silver Creek, Browns Gulch and Todd Creek were visible from communities to the east, and heavy smoke affected Gold Beach and Brookings, according to fire officials. Smoke continued to blanket Agness on Tuesday morning.
Fire containment lines held with the benefit of constant support by helicopter water drops and partial sheltering from the terrain, fire officials said. Fire activity remained in check at Horse Sign Creek, the confluence of the Illinois River and Indigo Creek, and below Forest Road 2308 the Burnt Ridge Road.
“Abundant fire on the landscape; extremely dry fuel and air; temperatures over 90 degrees; steep terrain; northeast winds gusting to 25 mph,” said Fire Behavior Analyst Dean Warner. Warner anticipated seeing areas of torching trees and snags, with the fire making uphill runs, especially where terrain and winds align.
Firefighters continue to seek routes and barriers that will check the fire’s movement to the west at Indigo Creek and the Illinois River and between the silver mine and Chrome Ridge.
If the fire continues to move uphill to the northeast, threatening to reach and cross the Burnt Ridge or Bear Camp roads, fire officials say that a tactical firing group will implement its plan to close these roads while they ignite and reduce nearby fuels. Fire officials claim that Bear Camp Road will only be closed if necessary, and will be reopened as quickly as possible. Recent northeast winds have been working in favor of pushing the fire away from these roadways.
Fire officials advise drivers to use extra caution when traveling on the narrow, twisting Bear Camp Road. Fire engines, water tenders and other firefighting vehicles using this route are wide and heavy. Firefighters may also be serving as lookouts or working nearby.
Everyone should be cautious to avoid starting additional fires in this extremely dry, critical period of fire weather.