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MailTribune.com
  • Heat, smoke settle in the valley

  • Rogue Valley residents can expect hazy skies and the smell of smoke for the rest of their weekend, followed by another triple-digit heat wave.
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  • Rogue Valley residents can expect hazy skies and the smell of smoke for the rest of their weekend, followed by another triple-digit heat wave.
    Three wildfires burning just across the border in Northern California sent heavy smoke into the Rogue Valley Saturday that will probably hang around for awhile, weather officials said.
    The Goff, Hello and Lick fires — together called the Fort Complex fire — had grown to 246, 296 and 174 acres, respectively, by Saturday afternoon and were 7 percent contained as of early Saturday afternoon, according to fire officials. Lightning strikes on Aug. 5 started the blazes.
    "The wind is blowing into (the Rogue Valley) from the southwest," said Megan Woodhead of the National Weather Service office in Medford.
    The smoke could stick around until the fires are brought under control, and the weather service is predicting smoke in the valley at least through Monday.
    After the smoke clears, temperatures are expected to spike into the 100s beginning Tuesday, according to the weather service.
    The high on Tuesday is expected to approach 100 degrees, while Wednesday and Thursday could see the heat rising to 102 to 104, according to the National Weather Service.
    Highs are not expected to dip below 100 until Friday, which could see a daytime temperature of 94.
    The Goff fire is burning near the Happy Camp Oak Knolls Ranger District in the Klamath National Forest. The Hello and Lick fires are in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near the Siskiyou Mountain Ranger District.
    Crews have staged at Applegate Valley's Cantrall-Buckley Park because the California fires — burning in rugged terrain — are more easily reached from the Oregon side. About 530 personnel were fighting the blazes Saturday. The crew includes six engines, four water tenders, one dozer, 18 hand crews, eight helicopters and an air tanker.
    One crew member suffered a laceration that required 14 stitches, the only major injury reported so far.
    The California fires closed several roads and trails along the border.
    U.S. Forest Service Road 1040 was closed and Shoofly Trail No. 954 was closed from Road 1040 to Trail No. 957. Butte Fork Trail No. 957 was closed from the Horse Camp Trail junction west to Azalea Lake. Horse Camp Trail No. 958 was closed from U.S. Forest Service Road 1040 south to Pacific Crest Trail junction.
    In the Klamath National Forest, the Fort Goff and Portuguese Creek trails were closed at the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District.
    The Pacific Crest Trail remained open.
    Another fire raged Saturday in Lakeview, which sits east of Klamath Falls near the Fremont National Forest.
    Fire crews had contained 25 percent of the 20,000-acre Barry Point Fire, 22 miles southwest of Lakeview on Fremont-Winema National Forest and private lands as of Saturday afternoon.
    An Aug. 6 lightning strike started the blaze, which had grown to an estimated 20,270 acres as of Saturday.
    Incident Web, a fire-suppression website, said the fire's east and south flanks had been the most active due to winds, but lines along the northwest and west perimeters were holding.
    Crews were clearing fuels from around structures in the area to provide defensible space, an Oregon Interagency Incident Management Team news release said. About 75 structures were threatened by the blaze, but none had caught fire so far, fire officials said.
    No injuries had been reported so far, said Erica Hupp, spokeswoman for the Fremont-Winema National Forest.
    Evacuation orders from the Lake County Sheriff's Department were in effect for residents near Drews Reservoir. Advisory of a potential evacuation was in effect from Antelope Gap on the northeast end of Drews Reservoir south to Andy Hill Road.
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