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MailTribune.com
  • 1957 wildfires surrounded Jacksonville

  • Back in the 1950s, there was a massive wildfire above and around Jacksonville. How and when did the fire start? How many days did it burn and how many acres were burned? Were any houses or ranches lost?
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  • Back in the 1950s, there was a massive wildfire above and around Jacksonville. How and when did the fire start? How many days did it burn and how many acres were burned? Were any houses or ranches lost?
    — Larry S., Jacksonville
    It only took the folks at the Southern Oregon Historical Society about five minutes to help us find the answer to this one, Larry.
    There's a Sept. 4, 1957, Mail Tribune article that points — we think — to the fire you're talking about. The headline is: "Brush Fire Burns 15 Acres in Jacksonville."
    According to the story, there were actually four separate brush fires that crews had to knock down — in Jacksonville, Ruch, Logtown and Trail. The largest started inside Jacksonville's city limits at about 1 p.m. and burned 15 acres.
    The flames started along the highway near the southwest city limits. With the help of city residents, crews built fire trails to stop the spread. This didn't seem to help much, the article shows, as the fire jumped three of the hand trails. So crews used a bulldozer.
    "Hundreds of feet of fire hose, which stretched back into the wooded area behind the Jacksonville cemetery, also were used to control the fire, which was burning east toward town," the article reads.
    According to the article, crews set backfires to further contain the spread. The article says all flames were under control by nightfall Sept. 3. The story makes no mention of houses or ranches lost, or of how the fire started.
    The smaller Ruch, Logtown and Trail fires never grew beyond a couple of acres each. They were caused by "careless smokers," the article states.
    Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.
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