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Tin Pan Peak fire 40 percent contained

ROGUE RIVER — Firefighters have the Tin Pan Peak fire 40 percent contained, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The state's largest wildfire west of the Cascades this year spread to 425 acres overnight on private and Bureau of Land Management terrain after starting in multiple spots along Interstate 5 between mileposts 45 and 48. Three outbuildings burned, but no houses were lost and residents evacuated Thursday are now allowed to return to their homes.

ODF spokesman Brian Ballou said flames consumed a substantial part of a vinyl fence company's inventory on the south side of North River Road.

“We don't expect to have it totally contained by this afternoon,” Ballou said. “It crested Tin Pan a little bit, but they aren't expecting it to advance any farther. I'm told they made really good progress last night getting fire lines around it. They knocked down hot spots around houses along North River Road.”

Fire managers seek to have full containment by Saturday.

Ballou said the fire burned through brushy areas touched frequently by fire in recent decades, primarily on the south aspect of Tin Pan Peak. Firefighters' reached the fire primarily on a maze of driveways threading up the hill and on access roads off Wards Creek Road.

The winds contributing to the fires quick spread are expected to resume after 1 p.m. today, continuing until after nightfall.

“We fully expect to have flare-ups on the interior, particularly through the afternoon,” Ballou said. “But we're feeling pretty good about the fire lines and we've been able to open the section on the northeast.”

That part of the fire was the hardest to reach, because there were no usable roads.

“We've had to go in with bulldozers and crews have built roads by hand,"Ballou said.

North River Road, east of the city of Rogue River to Twin Bridges Road is now closed to the public, except for emergency traffic and residents.

There were 200 firefighters from Jackson and Josephine Counties as well as contractors working overnight with a day shift of 300 taking their place this morning.

Ballou said investigators are still working on determining cause of the fires reported at 4:20 p.m., Thursday.

— Greg Stiles