Firefighters expect 'slow going' against growing fires

No homes have burned but evacuations continued late this morning in rural northern Josephine County near Glendale as fire fighters battled the roughly 13,400-acre Douglas Complex fires.

Josephine County early today issued an evacuation order for residents living along Poorman Creek where eight homes were threatened. The fire some seven miles north of Glendale is 2 percent contained by fire lines.

Evacuated residents are encouraged to go to the American Red Cross Shelter that has been established at the Glendale Elementary School.

Other evacuations and closures include:

  • Evacuations have also been ordered for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County.
  • An additional four hundred residences are potentially threatened, meaning that more evacuations may be necessary. Evacuation orders would be issued by either the Douglas County or Josephine County sheriff's offices.
  • Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed.

There are now about 1,025 firefighters, nearly 30 fire engines, two bulldozers, 11 helicopters and several retardant bombers assigned to the fires.

As fires burn across the parched landscape, fire crews from as far away as Pennsylvania have joined in the effort to slow them down.

But seasoned firefighters warn that putting out the roughly 75 fires sparked by dry lightning Friday morning will be slow going.

For instance, the Brimstone fire some five miles west of Sunny Valley erupted into a crown fire — flames flashing through the tree tops — late Sunday afternoon, observed Brian Ballou, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

"It's really tough fire fighting — everything is so dry," the veteran firefighter said of the fire estimated to be 1,500 to 2,000 acres. It is not part of the Douglas Complex fires.

"Everything is burning so readily that it is difficult to get people out on the ground," he said. "We have to use helicopters and retardant bombers to slow it down. That has been marginally effective. We are continually losing ground."

Over on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the Labrador fire half a dozen air miles west of Selma has grown to about 700 acres, according to Howard Hunter, spokesman for the Type 2 overhead team fighting that fire.

The fire is burning in a portion of the 2002 Biscuit fire area, he noted, referring the five which burned about 500,000 acres.

"But this isn't like the former fire which burned a lot of heavier, mature timber," he said. "In the past 11 years, this has become a brush field. We have finer fuels now, but they are more flashier. All our tactics have to be indirect."

To protect several structures in the Oak Flat area along the Illinois River, 50 firefighters have been deployed, he said.

"This is a difficult fire in real tough terrain," he said. "It is zero percent contained."

The fire has slopped into the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, he noted.

For more information go to:

Additional information about the Douglas Complex fires and other fires is available at:

Douglas Forest Protective Association's website,; Twitter,; Facebook,; InciWeb,;; ODF Southwest Oregon District's site,; or the American Red Cross,

— Paul Fattig

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