A fast-moving fire has scorched between 30 and 50 acres on the southern edge of Ashland and filled the skies over town with thick smoke and hot ash. Witnesses said homes and structures had burned, but fire officials didn't have details yet. The burnt remains of a home in the 1500 block of Tolman Creek could be seen. “With hot debris in the smoke column, homes are still at risk,” Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou said. The Rogue Valley Structural Task Force, a cooperative effort involving multiple fire departments, has been activated to protect buildings. Two air tankers are dropping fire retardant around the blaze and four or five helicopters are dumping water on it. Fire officials warned people to stay away from the area to make way for the growing number of firefighters working in the area. Siskiyou Boulevard is closed south of Tolman Creek Road and Tolman Creek Road is also closed at Siskiyou. The northbound off-ramp at Interstate 5's exit 11 is closed, and transportation officials warned that heavy smoke could slow traffic on the freeway. The fire broke out at mid-morning near the intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Crowson Road and swept into the hills, pushed by gusty winds out of the south east. Ballou said homeowners on the south flank of the fire had been advised to leave. He said he was working closely with people living on the north side of the fire near Tolman Creek Road to keep them informed about risks. — Anita Burke
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