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Klondike Fire Tops 100,000 Acres, Controlled Burns Delayed

Credit: Marcia Bolsinga

Fire crews were forced to delay a major planned firing operation designed to protect the communities of Agness and Oak Flat as the fire's western flank continues to expand.

Posted: Aug 30, 2018 10:15 AM

AGNESS, Ore. — With more direct efforts failing to stop the westward spread of the Klondike Fire toward Agness, fire crews hoped to fall back to a burned-out firing line. But conditions in the area on Wednesday forced delays for those firing operations.

The Klondike Fire now burns on 100,996 acres and is 40 percent contained.

Plans to prepare a contingency line at Wild Horse Road west of the Illinois River began earlier this week after spot fires jumped the river. Crews hoped to strengthen the line with firing operations between Seven Mile Peak and the Illinois River, but had to postpone those efforts on Wednesday.

Fire officials say that they hope to conduct the planned firing operations on Thursday, along with a short segment east of the Illinois River.

The goal of those firing operations is to protect both Agness and the Oak Flat community. Oak Flat finally escaped a Level 3 "GO" evacuation order just days ago as firefighting efforts on the eastern flank of the Klondike Fire made substantial progress.

Crews hope to create a "blackened fire-line," extending at least 1,000 feet downslope from the primary fire line—ideally preventing spot fires from jumping the line and into unburnt vegetation.

Thursday night will see a night shift of firefighters working the line, as more hotshot crews and resources arrive in the Klondike West Zone.

The Taylor Creek Fire west of Merlin and Grants Pass holds at 52,839 acres with 95 percent containment. Remaining crews in that area and on the Klondike Fire's eastern flank are hard at work on "repair actions," striving to prevent soil movement and erosion in areas ravaged by fire and firefighting activity.

"Although it seems unlikely at the end of this unusually dry summer, the winter rains will inevitably arrive," fire officials said in a morning update. When those rains do arrive, they will test how effective repair efforts have been.

Fire officials are reminding hunters returning to the forest as fall approaches that fire danger remains high, encouraging extreme caution. Precautionary measures, such as checking to make sure trailer chains don’t drag through dry grass, are highly recommended.

On Tuesday, fire officials closed Bear Camp Road again to public travel due to the proximity of the Klondike Fire West Zone. Residents of Agness and Galice may continue to use the road to access their residences and will be asked to provide photo identification at checkpoints.

Traffic associated with recreational activities on the Wild portion of the Wild and Scenic Lower Rogue River is allowed to continue using Bear Camp Road. This includes commercial fishing and rafting guides, noncommercial boaters and rafters, and shuttle services. A copy of the river permit or special use authorization will be required at checkpoints, and will be provided by the Smullin Visitor Center in Rand when boaters pick up their permit. Questions about this can be directed to the Smullin Visitor Center at (541) 479-3735.

See below for Curry County evacuation details:

LEVEL 2 "Be Set" - Starting on the south side of the Rogue River along the Agness Road #33 at Spud Road and those residents on Spud Road just west of the Illinois River Bridge and east to the Coon Rock Bridge that crosses the Rogue River just above Agness. Down river on the north side of the Rogue River from junction #33 to the #375 road into Old Agness and all residences along the #375 road. All residents along Oak Flat Road #270 will be notified of the Level 2 Closure.

LEVEL 1 "Be Ready" - East of the Coon Rock Bridge where the #33 Road meets the #375 Road will remain a Level 1 at this time. The area west of Spud Road off the #33 Road to Wildhorse will remain Level 1 at this time.

For more specifics on evacuations and closures in Josephine County, go to our article HERE.

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