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Fires make history

The Taylor Creek and Klondike fires have made it into the record books, roaring past the acreage devoured by the devastating Chetco Bar fire last year.

A grand total of 193,071 acres have been enveloped by both the Klondike and Taylor Creek fires, with the Klondike at 140,232 acres and the Taylor Creek at 52,839. The two fires are burning west of Grants Pass.

The Chetco Bar, which burned all the way to Brookings, engulfed 191,125 acres and was the second-worst fire this century in Oregon, eclipsed by the 500,000-acre Biscuit fire in 2002.

Despite the scope of the fires this year, higher humidity and lower temperatures have firefighters gaining the upperhand.

“Just this afternoon, we reopened Bear Camp Road,” said Mike Williamson, public information officer for the Klondike west fire.

The evacuation Level 2 (get set) in the Agness Creek area has been dropped Level 1 (get ready).

“We’re feeling pretty good about it,” Williamson said.

The fire still continues to creep forward, particularly near Agness, but firefighters have been making progress.

The Klondike is 72-percent contained while the Taylor Creek fire is 95 percent contained.

Because conditions are better, incident commanders are going to ramp down operations on the Klondike.

More than 1,000 firefighters handled the blaze a couple of weeks ago, but the number dropped to 633 by Monday.

When the Klondike and Taylor Creek fires erupted after lightning strikes July 15, they were more than 20 miles apart. As they grew, the fires merged. At first the Taylor Creek threatened more than 300 structures near the Rogue River, but firefighters built containment lines and ultimately corralled that fire. In the meantime, the Klondike continued to grow, finally surpassing Taylor Creek in size.

Another big fire, The Delta fire, burning south of the border in the Trinity Mountains near Mount Shasta City, has engulfed 60,277 acres and is 76-percent contained.

The Miles fire, burning on 54,135 acres north of Shady Cove, is 70-percent contained.

Williamson said a small amount of rain on the western edge of the Klondike helped firefighting efforts Sunday.

Warmer, drier air for the next few days could increase fire activity, he said.

But it will require a significant rainfall to close the books on this bad fire year.

“We need some more moisture coming in,” Williamson said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

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