Fire danger set to increase with continued heat

With temperatures expected to climb to 90 degrees or above for the coming week in Jackson and Josephine counties, the Oregon Department of Forestry is ramping up the fire danger level from moderate to high beginning Friday.

That means increased restrictions for outdoor activity, including operating chainsaws and other motorized equipment, on the 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and U.S. Bureau of Land Management lands protected by the department's Southwest Oregon District.

Coincidentally, Friday marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the 2002 lightning-caused Biscuit fire which burned nearly half a million acres in southwest Oregon.

But the smoky sky over the Rogue Valley today is from distant wildfires, officials said, noting the nearest fires are in northern California near Redding and in southeastern Oregon west of Frenchglen. Fires burning in those areas have charred about 2,000 acres. (Correction: The spelling of Frenchglen has been corrected in this story.)

"Compared to Colorado and the Southwest, we are relatively in good shape," observed veteran firefighter Brian Ballou, a spokesman for the district. "Our trees are still saturated."

For details about the restrictions that will go into effect on Friday, see

— Paul Fattig

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