Firefighters working to contain the multiple blazes in the Applegate's Miller Complex have lifted all evacuation notices on the Oregon side following Thursday's rainfall.
But fire officials also are preparing for another bout of warmer, drier weather expected this weekend.
"We’re taking advantage of the cooler weather now. We do expect it to heat back up," said fire public information officer Dave Boyd.
High temperatures are expected to be in the mid- to upper-80s this weekend, in the mid-90s Monday and Tuesday and back to the 80s again later in the week, according to the National Weather Service.
Anywhere from one-tenth to one-fifth of an inch of rain fell in parts of Jackson County over a 24-hour period Thursday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Brett Lutz. Parts of Josephine County saw one-tenth of an inch in multiple spots, with eight-tenths of an inch falling over at least one spot in the Illinois Valley.
Further west into Curry County, anywhere from one-quarter to one-half of an inch fell, including on parts of the Chetco Bar fire.
"To our benefit, most of the fires got significant rainfall, one-tenth of an inch or more," Lutz said, adding heat levels from agency satellite images that display fire activity also appeared to show cooler levels.
The largest fire in the 33,936-acre Miller Complex, the 27,160-acre Abney fire burning south of Applegate Lake and north of the Seiad Valley, is 12 percent contained, with continued slow growth to the south. The 4,147-acre Burnt Peak fire, located three miles north of Applegate Lake, is 74 percent contained. The Creedence and Bigelow fires, seven miles south of Williams, are 2,089 acres and 71 acres in size, respectively. Creedence is 40 percent contained, and Bigelow is 72 percent contained.
Previously, residents on Kinney Creek and Palmer Creek roads and parts of Upper Applegate and Beaver Creek roads were under a Level 2 — "get set" — notice before the evacuations were lifted. Residents living on Carberry Creek and Eastside roads and around Applegate Lake, as well as campgrounds in the area, were on Level 1 — "get ready" — alert.
A Level 1 evacuation warning is still in effect for residents near the Joe Bar fire, part of the complex burning in Northern California.
For firefighters working on containing the 177,031-acre Chetco Bar fire — still the largest in Oregon — the rain was helpful in slowing fire growth, but not in making a significant difference, according to a news release.
"Rains were not evenly distributed, and, especially in thick brush and under a forest canopy and large dead logs, the rain didn't penetrate or wasn't sufficient to make a difference," the release reads. "The fine fuels will dry out quickly as the weather begins to warm again."
The fire is considered 5 percent contained and has been split into western and eastern zones. The eastern zone is closer to Josephine County towns such as Selma, Kerby, Cave Junction, O'Brien and Kerby.
The High Cascades Complex burning near Crater Lake also saw some moderate slowing in fire behavior because of the rain. As much as one-quarter-inch fell on the parts of the four major fires included in the 66,966-acre complex, which is 18 percent contained.
The slowed fire growth also resulted in slightly improved air quality for the region. Ashland, Medford, Provolt and Shady Cove air quality stations recorded air that was "unhealthy for sensitive groups," based on measurements taken the past 24 hours. Roseburg, Grants Pass and Cave Junction registered "moderate" air quality.
Fire crews also remain on the lookout for holdover lightning fires that have a delayed start. Jackson County received 110 lightning strikes between 8:30 a.m. Thursday and 8:30 a.m. Friday, though lightning activity mostly petered out by late afternoon Thursday. Josephine County received 57 strikes.
The lightning caused several immediate starts Thursday, with Chetco Bar crews chasing three in the Wild Rivers Ranger District. Two grew to one-tenth of an acre, while the third grew to two acres.
Oregon Department of Forestry crews were also kept busy, chasing and snuffing at least 10 new lightning-sparked fires across Jackson and Josephine counties.
ChetcoSept8 by Mail Tribune on Scribd
High Cascades Complex by Mail Tribune on Scribd
— Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.