Fire north of Galice nears containment

A 26-acre fire that started Sunday evening about 15 miles northwest of Grants Pass was expected to be under control Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Forestry predicted.

"It's looking pretty good," said Brian Ballou, spokesman for ODF.

The Grave Creek fire has been burning about five miles north of Galice in rugged terrain and was 70 percent contained at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Ballou said firefighters expected to declare the fire 100-percent contained sometime later Tuesday evening.

A 20-man team of state inmates was brought in for mop-up operations, Ballou said.

He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, but was likely human-caused, possibly by a camp fire.

The Grave Creek fire isn't responsible for the haze that's blown into the valley this week, he said.

Upper-level winds from the north and northeast have ushered in smoke from the Pole Creek fire that has scorched 26,288 acres near Sisters. The fire isn't close to containment and likely won't be extinguished until rainy weather hits Oregon, he said.

A chance of showers is expected early next week, Ballou said.

Meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies, with the National Weather Service in Medford, said the smoky weather could continue until the beginning of next week.

By Tuesday, an onshore airflow is expected and should blow the smoke toward Eastern Oregon instead of into the Medford area.

Then, by Tuesday night, Nelaimischkies said, there is a good chance that Oregon could finally see some rain, including in the valley.

He said the rain and a change in air flow will help many local residents who have been suffering from respiratory problems through the summer as smoke from fires in California and Oregon have blown into Jackson County.

"We could see a much cooler, onshore flow next week," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or

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