Oregon Gulch Fire grows to 6,300 acres

A wildfire that started in the Greensprings area Thursday and gained explosive momentum over the course of a few hours continues to burn toward Klamath County and Northern California.

The lightning-sparked Oregon Gulch Fire has grown to 6,300 acres, according to officials from the Oregon Department of Forestry. An incident management team is traveling to the area today to lead fire fighting efforts.

"They are rolling in and starting to get set up," said Brian Ballou, ODF fire prevention specialist.

The fire was first reported Thursday morning as a 10-acre blaze in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, about 25 miles southeast of Ashland. The blaze saw rapid growth during the afternoon and evening hours, jumping from 450 to 5,300-plus acres over the course of about four hours. The flames forced evacuations of several rural homes in the Copco Road area, and at Jenny Creek south of Pinehurst.

Several structures have reportedly been torched by the flames, though specifics were not available this morning. There are no reports of injuries or deaths.

ODF's initial attack force included 12 bulldozers, 60 crew members and eight wildland engines. Helicopters and air tanker planes also assisted with water and retardant drops. That force should see a sizable increase today with the incident management team's arrival.

The skies over Jackson County were mostly quiet Thursday afternoon and evening, with only five new lightning strikes reported. Smoke from the Oregon Gulch Fire will remain mostly aloft today, with little expected to drift into the lower parts of the Rogue Valley, according to the National Weather Service.

We'll update this story as more information becomes available.

— Ryan Pfeil

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