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State crew contains Salt Creek fire

State foresters suspect a hunter or other forest user ignited the fire EAGLE POINT ' State forestry crews on Monday evening contained a stubborn 90-acre fire burning in a series of tree plantations in the Salt Creek area about 10 miles east of here, authorities said.

A dozen Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters manning five engines and a bulldozer were able to encircle the Beekman Ridge fire by sundown Monday, said Dan Thorpe, the ODF's Medford Unit forester.

Thorpe said the fire burned quickly through the industrial forest land. The fire was primarily in areas logged and replanted about 15 years ago and burned out of view of Medford residents locked in fog.

Although it felt cool and moist in the valley, it was very dry, very warm and very windy up there, Thorpe said.

The fire, which was reported Sunday, was originally thought to have started from a prescribed burn that got out of hand, Thorpe said. But a closer look Monday revealed that the burned areas were far away from the slash pile, negating that theory, Thorpe said.

State foresters suspect a hunter or other forest user ignited the fire. Arson had not been ruled out, Thorpe said.

The fire burned on land owned by Rough and Ready Lumber Co. of Cave Junction, Lone Rock Timber Co. of Medford and the federal Bureau of Land Management.

Mid-December fires are somewhat rare but not unheard of.

In January 2001, a 200-acre fire broke out in the Wagner Creek drainage. In 1988, a 500-acre fire broke out in the Yale Creek drainage in the Applegate Valley on Dec. 15 ' the night of the local ODF office's Christmas party, Thorpe said.