Reader Michael Ball sent in this photo of the fire near Grants Pass.

UPDATED: Wildfire outside Grants Pass rips through brush, damages homes

6:10 p.m. Fire officials report that the wildfire dubbed the Beacon Hill fire is burning uphill from Interstate 5 through Grants Pass and could be stopped at the ridge top.

It is estimated to have burned 60 to 75 acres in heavy brush on the slopes at the edge of town. Two homes reportedly have been damaged, Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou said.

Officials said they hope to corral the fire at less than 100 acres, but the battle could take time. two helicopters are dumping buckets of water on the fire from above.

Josephine County Emergency Services Manager Jessica Schwarz said in an email that no evacuations have been ordered, but sheriff's deputies are going to homes in the area to warn residents. The Red Cross and the Josephine County Fairgrounds are on standby is a shelter is needed.

An emergency operations center has been established and residents can call 541-474-5305 for information.

5:30 p.m. The Oregon Department of Forestry reports that a wildfire burning on Beacon Hill next to next to Interstate 5 in Grants Pass has burned about 50 acres and is threatening homes.

Residents of the West Jones Creek area said evacuations were taking place in the neighborhood.

4:35 p.m. A northbound lane of Interstate 5 is closed between the Grants Pass exits, 55 and 58, because of a fire along the east side of the highway, the Oregon Department of Transportation said. Drivers should expect delays.

4:05 p.m. Oregon Department of Forestry crews are headed toward a small but smoky wildfire east of Grants Pass.

The fire was discovered minutes ago along a piece of land bordering federal Bureau of Land Management land, BLM spokesman Jim Whittington says.

Smoke is visible from the city as well as from Interstate 5, Whittington says.

The size of the fire and the cause are not known yet, he says.

Other fire departments in Jackson and Josephine counties also have been called to the growing blaze, emergency dispatch records show. The fire is reported to be behind Grants Pass Shopping Center, in the Beacon Hill area.

— Mark Freeman

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