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MailTribune.com
  • Fire ignites near Bear Creek

    Crews snuff out wind-driven 4-acre blaze that slows traffic for hour and a half on I-5
  • A grass fire Thursday charred about 4 acres along Bear Creek behind Crater Lake Ford while sending black and gray smoke billowing into the nearly 100-degree heat.
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  • A grass fire Thursday charred about 4 acres along Bear Creek behind Crater Lake Ford while sending black and gray smoke billowing into the nearly 100-degree heat.
    About 30 firefighters from three agencies battled the blaze, which was reported about 3 p.m. as a fast-growing grass fire between Bear Creek and Interstate 5, said Brian Fish, deputy chief of operations for Medford Fire-Rescue.
    Jackson County Fire District No. 3, Medford Fire-Rescue and Oregon Department of Forestry crews attacked the fire from all sides, including a northbound lane of the interstate, which slowed traffic in the area for about an hour and a half.
    The fire burned though dry grass along the Bear Creek Greenway and on both sides of Bear Creek, sending large black clouds of smoke above the interstate as it crackled through tall green vegetation and trees along the creek.
    "It's dense vegetation, which is pretty dry ... and we had significant winds going for a little bit that pushed it along the Greenway," Fish said.
    The fire broke out near hydrants, so crews were able to douse the flames with plenty of water, he said.
    One Medford Fire-Rescue engine hooked up to a hydrant in the parking lot of the Crater Lake Ford dealership on Biddle Road sent a steady stream from its top-mount water cannon into the fire area.
    No official cause has been determined by fire investigators, said Fish, who expected firefighters to remain on the scene into Thursday evening.
    No injuries were reported, he said.
    Medford resident Don Coleman, who watched the fire, said he had seen a homeless camp in the area recently and speculated that the fire either started from someone staying there or someone driving past on the interstate.
    "This is just a reminder for people that stuff spreads very quickly, and it's going to be this way from now until the end of September," Fish said. "We need to watch out for that and be careful of what you're doing."
    Fish added that any information people can pass along to dispatchers about a fire's behavior will help firefighters attack a blaze more efficiently.
    The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for drought-stricken Southern Oregon until 6 p.m. tonight. A chance of thunderstorms extends from Cave Junction east to Lakeview, and from Ashland north to Sutherlin. Affected areas include the Umpqua Basin, Umpqua National Forest and western Rogue Basin, including the Illinois Valley, eastern Rogue Valley, the Siskiyou Mountains and the Southern Oregon Cascades.
    Lightning strikes on the dry terrain could mean multiple fire starts around the region, officials said.
    Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.
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