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Ramsey Canyon fire threatens homes

A wildfire that roared to life in Sams Valley Wednesday had grown to 1,329 acres by Friday, according to fire officials.

The Ramsey Canyon fire, which is about 12 miles north of Eagle Point, is considered 15 percent contained, and fire officials estimate full containment Sept. 10.

On Thursday night, the fire was active in the southeast corner and on the northern flank. The south side of the fire has progressed down to Ramsey Road. It is expected to be active near that road’s intersection with Ramsey Canyon Road “and is expected to hold there,” the release said.

The north side of the fire continues to advance slowly, with flames progressing through steep, rugged terrain. Structure protection task forces from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office are working to protect homes north of that flank, and on the fire’s eastern side.

Cooler weather with high temperatures in the 70s to mid 80s Friday and relative humidity in the 25 to 30 percent range were expected to aid firefighting efforts during the day, though some moderate winds are expected to kick up in the afternoon.

Smoke levels in the area from regional wildfires prevented air tankers from being able to aid firefighting efforts, but helicopters will continue to assist when conditions allow.

More than 600 personnel are working the fire.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department has released level 3 “go” and level 2 “be set” evacuation notices for numerous residents living near the fire, as 315 structures were considered threatened.

Addresses under a level 3 evacuation included East Evans Creek Road, beginning at the address of 17935, and continuing east including addresses 18505 and 18509 (all accessed off of West Fork Evans Creek Road) then continuing to 19373 at the Meadows Road intersection. The 18504 and 18508 addresses on West Fork Evans Creek Road; Ramsey Road, beginning at the 13469 and proceeding north to include 13001 and 14738 and continuing to the Meadows Road intersection; and Meadows Road, proceeding south from East Evans Creek Road to include 16880.

Addresses under a level 2 evacuation advisory included East Evans Creek Road, beginning at 15513 and ending at 16995, and beginning at 19395 and continuing to 21043; Meadows Road, beginning at addresses 16800 and 16821, then proceeding south to include 14765; and Ramsey Road, beginning at 13465 and proceeding south to 11655.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter for evacuees at Hanby Middle School, 806 Sixth Ave., Gold Hill. That shelter can be reached at 1-888-680-1455.

Other fires

Wildland firefighting crews continue to battle twin lightning-sparked fires west of Grants Pass. The Klondike fire had grown to 80,725 acres Friday and was 37 percent contained, while the Taylor Creek fire was 52,796 acres and 95 percent contained.

Crews also continued the fight with the Miles and Columbus fires northeast of Trail. The Miles fire was 35,310 acres Friday and 54 percent contained, while the Columbus fire was 10,138 acres and 55 percent contained. Those fires, along with the fully contained Snow Shoe and Round Top fires, were also sparked by lightning.

The 23,417-acre Natchez fire, burning outside Cave Junction just over the border in California, was 70 percent contained.

Smoke has continued to wallop the region, with airlines using larger aircraft forced to cancel flights at the Medford airport because of poor visibility, while the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland opted to end its run of outdoor Green Shows.

On Friday morning, Ashland and Klamath Falls had “unhealthy” air quality, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Index. Medford and Shady Cove air was “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” while the Applegate, Grants Pass and Cave Junction had “moderate” air quality. Medford and Grants Pass air quality had improved to moderate by Friday afternoon, but Ashland, Talent and Shady Cove were still in the unhealthy range.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468.

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