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Crews contain 125-acre Alder Creek wildfire

A wildfire that broke out Thursday in logging debris on private timberlands northeast of Shady Cove and grew to 125 acres was contained by fire crews over the weekend.

Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service firefighters have completed fire lines around most of the Alder Creek fire, ODF spokesman Brian Ballou said Monday. The fire started in piles of logging debris that were lighted in late November and early December, according to Grayback Forestry President Mike Wheelock, who also sent crews to help battle the blaze.

The fire about 15 miles up Elk Creek Road drew at least two 20-person hand crews, one bulldozer, seven engines and two water tenders. The blaze left some areas untouched, including spots where snow remained on the ground or creeks were still frozen.

"Interesting situation, fighting fires in the wintertime," Ballou said.

He added seeing a wildfire this early in the year is unusual. Underwhelming precipitation and a nearly nonexistent snowpack have parched the landscape around Jackson County. Add Thursday's 15- to 20-mph winds to that equation, and the terrain is ripe for a fire, officials said.

"It's definitely a sequence of events that I can't recall seeing," Ballou said. "Having red flag warnings on top of (the weather), where you're so dry and there's going to be a strong east wind, those are really unusual events."

ODF officials said crews will head back up to the private lands today to make sure nothing reignited.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.