Smoke blowing in from California, won't clear soon

More than 100 wildfires burning near the Oregon-California border will bring heavy smoke to the Rogue Valley for the next several days, officials say.

Lightning from Saturday’s thunderstorm in the valley also started 10 small fires, but they totaled fewer than 10 acres and were quickly extinguished, said Brian Ballou fire prevention specialist for the Oregon Department of Forestry.

"I don’t blame people for being concerned. Everybody’s watching the skies. But we did get quite a lot of rain and that helped us out," Ballou said today.

Shifting winds will keep the patchy smoke in the area through Wednesday, and the chance of another thunderstorm is 30 percent tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

"We will be in an air quality alert for a couple of days," said Ballou.
Saturday’s storm brought violent wind, torrential rain and golf-ball sized hail to the northern end of Jackson County and to parts of Josephine County.

The storm ripped down tree limbs, destroyed property, stranded motorists and caused power outages lasting until early morning.
About 50 percent of the booths at the Rogue River Rooster Crow festival were significantly damaged, said City Administrator Mark Reagles.

"It was horrible," said Reagles. "Big huge tents were blowing across the streets, and there were limbs down all over.”

The fires in Northern California include more than a thousand blazes in all and have burned more than 550 square miles (see correction note below). No new fires started today, according to the Associated Press.

- Sanne Specht

Correction: The original version of this story used an incorrect unit of measurement to illustrate the fire's size. This version has been corrected.

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