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Crews start to tame East Antelope fire, with weather's help

ASHLAND ' Favorable weather helped crews reduce the wildfire boiling atop Grizzly Peak to a simmer.

Crews had put lines around the entire perimeter of the East Antelope fire Friday and were well on their way to tying up the fire for good, fire officials said.

With no significant gains in acreage, the fire was 75 percent contained Friday. Full containment on the 1,886-acre fire was expected Sunday evening, and crews should bring it under control by Tuesday evening, fire officials said.

We just had great conditions today. It was a little cooler ... even though the humidities were amazingly low ... but we didn't have any wind, said Dan Christensen, fire information officer for Oregon Department of Forestry.

Firefighters spent their Thursday night vigil digging lines around the blaze instead of burning vegetation in the fire's path as originally planned because the humidity was too low, Christensen said. Crews also cut dead trees that had been charred in the blaze, which if left standing are both a hazard to firefighters and a source of embers that could ignited new fires.

A timber faller, 40-year-old Dan Ferrin, was injured Friday morning when a falling limb struck his neck and shoulders. He was flown in a Mercy Flights helicopter to Rogue Valley Medical Center where he was listed in fair condition.

The fire was triggered Tuesday afternoon when tree limbs rubbed against power lines running through a remote forest. Sparks dropped from the line into dry brush several miles from East Antelope Road.

Although the fire traveled within 2.5 miles of Dead Indian Memorial Road when it tripled in size Wednesday, no evacuations were ordered for the rural area outside Ashland. However, fire engines have been standing by to protect homes along Dead Indian.

The rural route, along with Shale City and East Antelope roads, was reopened to traffic, but fire officials warned motorists to use extra caution. The Grizzly Peak trail, which is partially in the fire's perimeter, will remain closed until fire crews leave.

More than 500 people are working on the fire with help from 11 helicopters and 20 bulldozers. Suppressing the fire has so far cost &

36;1.3 million.

Residents in the area of the fire who have specific questions can contact the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center at 776-7338.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 776-4487, or e-mail .