Little Butte fire grows to 330 acres

Fire crews sweated out a long, hot day Wednesday trying to gain control of a 330-acre fire burning in steep terrain on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

The fire forced officials to close the Lily Glen Equestrian Park to the public so firefighters working on the Little Butte fire can stay there, Jackson County parks officials said.

The equestrian park at Howard Prairie Reservoir is near the fire and offers easy access for fire crews, officials said. All other Howard Prairie campgrounds and day-use areas remain open.

The Little Butte fire, previously known as the Dead Indian Mountain fire, is burning in pine and oak in steep terrain on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. It grew by 50 acres Tuesday and now has burned an estimated 330 acres, Oregon Department of Forestry Spokesman Brian Ballou said.

Fire burned more slowly than expected on Tuesday, with creeping flames and individual trees igniting, Ballou said. "We didn't have a lot of wind (Wednesday), which really helped a lot," Ballou said. "We are working to get a line around the fire. But as of right now, it is zero percent contained."

Crews have completed a hand line on the northeast flank of the fire, making a barrier from Forest Road 550 down to an unoccupied cabin on private land. Helicopters and air tankers also helped.

The south and west flank lines are holding, too. The southeast flank of the fire is the biggest challenge for the firefighters because of inaccessibility and rugged terrain, ODF officials reported. However, over the next couple of days, the fire is expected to spread in a more westerly direction.

A total of 251 firefighters from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, the Oregon Department of Forestry, the Jacksonville Fire Department, the Douglas Forest Protective Association and private contractors are assigned to the fire. Resources include eight 20-person hand crews, six engines, three helicopters, two dozers, four water tenders and miscellaneous overhead personnel.

Chris Conrad is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at at 541-776-4471 or cconrad@mailtribune.com

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