DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- The Oregon National Guard is getting into the fight in southern Oregon.
The Oregon Military Department and the Oregon Office of Emergency Management are assisting with response to the Douglas Complex fire.
The move comes after a State of Emergency was declared in both Douglas and Josephine counties.
The Douglas Complex fire, a group of lightning-caused wildfires in southern Douglas County and northern Josephine County, has burned more than 25,000 acres.
Multiple state agencies have responded to the fires, providing a variety of assets in support of the firefighting operations.
The Oregon Army National Guard is providing aviation assets at the request of the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Five aircraft are prepared to help with fire suppression, including three HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and one UH-72 Lakota.
Approximately 125 Soldiers along with 26 High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicles are also slated to be called up on State Active Duty within the next 72 hours to assist with traffic control in the evacuated areas.
The Oregon Office of Emergency Management is assisting with coordinating response to the fires.
The fire is being managed jointly by the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.
Wednesday Douglas Complex Update
Evacuations are still in effect for Reuben Road, Mt. Reuben Road and McCullough Creek Road in Douglas County. Josephine County is also continuing evacuations for Poorman Creek, Lower Graves Creek Road, Graves Creek Road, and Lower Wolf Creek.
The Douglas Complex has added a fourth branch to the complex – the Complex currently consists of Milo, on the east side of Interstate 5; Rabbit Mountain, on the west side of Interstate 5, northwest of Glendale, Dad’s Creek, west of Glendale, and the Farmer’s Fire south of Glendale. Firefighters are contending with hazards, like falling boulders and trees, and old mine shafts, which are affecting access into some of the fire area. Values at risk include homes, commercial timberland, and critical wildlife habitat. There are no reports of homes burned. Two minor injuries have been reported. Two outbuildings have been destroyed.
Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires, all less than 20 acres in size. Firefighters are patrolling these fires today. No further control problems are expected on these fires.
Near Middle Creek, firefighters continue to make progress on line construction as well as setting up hoses and water for use in extinguishing heat along the fire line. Spread of the fire was slowed by the cooler temperatures and increased humidity yesterday.
The south end of the fire continues to burn actively near Grave Creek; however, growth has slowed with the increased humidity and cooler temperatures. Overnight, on Dad’s Creek Fire, structure protection resources assigned in the Cow Creek Road area and Rattlesnake Road area made good progress helping Oregon Department of Forestry crews prepare the area for burn out operations that are expected to take place in the next 24-36 hours. The structure protection task forces assigned to that division reported good results with continued active fire behavior.
In Josephine County, overhead personnel spent a large part of the day accessing the area and reported challenging terrain, limited access, and active fire conditions. Approximately 30 homes are being threatened in the Grave Creek, Poorman Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek areas. Personnel will continue reconnaissance in these areas to get an accurate count of the number of structures threatened and formulate structure protection plans.
The fire is expected to burn actively again in the afternoon when temperature increases and winds start to affect fire movement. Smoke and erratic winds may impact air operations. Areas around Glendale will continue to see more smoke in the area.
Weather: A Red Flag warning has been issued for the area. The warning indicates an increased risk of fire potential. This warning is based on high fire activity in the area and the dry fuel conditions. The threat of dry lightning and thunderstorms continues through Wednesday, with a chance for rain as the storm progresses. A drying trend is forecast for the weekend.
Evacuations and Closures:
• Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed. The public is asked to honor the road blocks and not interfere with firefighters working in the area.
• Evacuations have been ordered for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County, and Poorman Creek Road, Lower Grave Creek, Grave Creek, and Lower Wolf Creek in Josephine County.
• An additional three hundred sixty five residences are considered threatened. This means evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future. Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County or Josephine County Sheriff’s Offices.
Fire Information Meetings: A public meeting is planned in Wolf Creek for Thursday night, August 1, at 6:00 pm at the Community Center.
Public Safety/Prevention: Due to winds transitioning from the northwest and inversions setting in at night, thick smoke from the Dad’s Creek fire is settling into Glendale during the morning hours. To address any concern as a result of smoke in the area, an air quality sensor has been installed in Glendale. Go to www.oregonsmoke.blogspot.com to track air quality measurements.