Fire officials say containment is closer on wildfires

Southwest Oregon is not out of the woods yet when it comes to the wildfires that have threatened homes and filled the air with smoke since July but officials say firefighters are gaining the upper hand.

Meanwhile, lightning fire sparked by the rain-bearing storm on Sunday also are being snuffed out.

The 24,125-acre Big Windy Complex along the lower Rogue River some 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass is now 40 percent contained, according to Mary Lunsford, spokesman for the command center in Merlin charged with organizing the effort to corral it.

"We made a lot of progress on the fire yesterday," she said this morning. "With the cooling weather we've had, we've been able to do a lot of direct firefighting."

That means firefighters have been able to attack the wildfire head on as opposed to building fire lines away from the main body of the fire.

"We will be doing more burning out but it won't be happening for a couple of days," she said of burning vegetation between established fire lines and the fire. "It has to dry out a little before we can resume burning out."

There are 1,065 firefighters attached to the blaze. Helicopters were expected to make bucket drops on hot spots in the northeastern section of the fire today, she said.

The expectation is to contain that lightning-caused fire by Sept. 7, she said.

The roughly 48,000-acre Douglas Complex fire near Glendale is now nearly 90 percent contained, officials said.

The Labrador fire in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest half a dozen air miles west of Selma has burned 2,023 acre with no containment percentage reported. It is creeping along in an area burned by the 2002 Biscuit fire, officials said.

The Whiskey Complex near Tiller was 100 percent contained on Aug. 24.

All the fires were sparked by lightning storms on July 26.

Containment is expected by the end of today on all of the small lightning fires that were ignited by lightning in the past week on the forest, said forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons.

One new fire was detected and suppressed on Robinson Butte near Fish Lake on Monday, she said.

— Paul Fattig

Share This Story