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Smoke rises up from the Hendrix fire after crews set backfires on Saturday. Photo from InciWeb

Fire crews bolstered on Hendrix fire SW of Ashland

Nearly 600 firefighters and support personnel are now working on the 1,000-plus acre Hendrix fire, burning about nine miles southwest of Ashland.

A release put out this afternoon by the combined state and federal firefighting group called Northwest Team 12, said that the smoke plaguing Southern Oregon is actually assisting in the Hendrix firefighting efforts, as the haze is cooling the area and helping to limit fire growth.

According to the report, the firefight includes 596 personnel, four hot shot crews, 13 hand crews, five helicopters, 22 fire engines, five bulldozers and 10 water tenders.

The fire, as of 8:30 a.m., was reported to be approximately 1,060 acres and 20 percent contained.

While the smoke helped cool the fire, it also hampered helicopter efforts due to poor visibility.

Crews were creating fire lines on the east side of the fire and setting some small backfires to the southwest to deprive the fire of fuel. The northwest portion of the fire is the ares where the containment has occurred.

Drivers in the Upper Applegate and Little Applegate roads are urged to be on the lookout for firefighters and fire vehicles.

Temperatures are not expected to cool anytime soon, with predicted highs of 90 degrees at 4,500 feet on Wednesday. Level 2 and 3 evacuations remain for residents near Hells Peak, southeast of Ruch. Forest Road 20 is closed from the Ashland watershed to Jackson Gap East, including access to the Dutchman Lookout.

The Pacific Crest Trail remains closed from Observation Gap (Forest Road 40501) to the Grouse Gap shelter near Mount Ashland.

Ashland and Medford remain among the nation’s five worst communities for air quality, with readings in the “very unhealthy” range. Shady Cove topped the national list, with a reading just into the “hazardous” level.

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