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The Hugo Road fire roared to 199 acres and destroyed two homes northwest of Grants Pass.Photo ODF

Hugo lined but homes destroyed

Firefighters from around Oregon descended Monday on the new Hugo Road fire that ignited Sunday night in Josephine County, destroying two residences and 13 out-buildings before fire crews were able to surround it with fire lines.

Gov. Kate Brown’s conflagration declaration allowed the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighters and structural task-force equipment from Marion, Lane, Linn and Klamath counties as firefighters worked hard to gain the upper hand on the 199-acre blaze 10 miles northwest of Grants Pass.

Several Level 3 “Go” evacuations ordered Sunday remained in place in the Hugo Road, Oxyoke and Three Pines roads as well as Monterico Hitching Post roads, according to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department.

The fire was listed late Monday as 30 percent contained, but not before it destroyed two houses, 13 outbuildings two recreational vehicles and 11 vehicles, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. Fire also damaged three other residences, two out-buildings and a vehicle, according to ODF.

Firefighters Monday afternoon were able to get hand-cut and bulldozer lines around the entire fire, and crews were focusing on mopping up the fire’s northeast side, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Their quick work Monday allowed the state fire marshal to send some of the out-of-area firefighters home in waves beginning Monday evening, according to ODF.

Monday night and Tuesday saw many of the 200 firefighters assigned to the blaze to work on mopping up the fire’s perimeter as well as creating 100-foot buffers around roads, residences and other buildings, ODF said in a news release.

Crews are also turning over burning stumps, removing hazard trees and exposing hidden flames, according to ODF.

The fire ignited about 7:15 p.m. and quickly spread but local wildland and structural firefighters made substantial progress overnight, with hand and bulldozer line surrounding about 80 percent of the fire by morning, according to ODF

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A Red Cross shelter was set up today at the Josephine County Fairgrounds for people, pets and livestock displaced by the fire.

Downed power lines and even the report of a cougar sighting in the area dogged firefighters throughout the night as they worked in steep, rugged terrain with extremely dry fuels. Firefighters Monday were met with temperatures inching into the 90s and wind gusts of up to 30 mph on ridges, according to ODF.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.

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