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Still fighting lots of fires in national forest, but sizes are small

None of the 31 remaining fires on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest lands have exceeded the triple-digit mark for burned acreage Monday, but the sheer number of lightning-sparked flare-ups have kept fire crews plenty busy.

The fires are split between the High Cascades and Siskiyou Mountains ranger districts.

There are 18 fires in the Camp Creek Complex burning in the High Cascades Ranger District, spread between Forest Road No. 6205 and the district’s southernmost boundary. There were 415 personnel assigned to that complex Monday.

The largest fire in that complex has burned about 200 acres of wilderness west of Hemlock Lake. The blaze is coined as "Fire 790" by the firefighting incident management team assigned to fight it. Crews have not yet begun drawing containment lines, as they are focusing on lower elevation incidents. The complex’s Bailey and Camp Creek fires — each about 15 acres — are fully lined and being mopped up by crews. Firefighters are still lining the Cluster Fire, which has grown to about 40 acres, and a cluster of five fires near Smith Rock.

"We’re feeling really good, especially those fires that we grabbed ahold of," said incident management team public information officer Stan Hinatsu. "We’re having a lot of success in getting these things and keeping them small."

Crews also continue work on eight fires making up the Bitter Complex, also located in the High Cascades district. Six of those fires are under control.

Five fires remain in the Siskiyous. The largest, the Wagner No. 1 fire, is holding steady at 10 acres.

Away from the national forests, the Salt Creek fire, part of the Beaver Complex that also includes the 36,000-plus acre Oregon Gulch fire, has burned 155 acres. The fire is burning 20 miles north of Medford and is 80 percent contained.

More lightning possible

Crews remain wary of the potential for incoming thunderstorms. A fire weather watch remains in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today for the Southern Cascades, Klamath Basin, Fremont-Winema National Forest, and parts of Shasta and Modoc counties because of another round of potential lightning strikes and winds with up to 40 mph gusts.

"That’s one of the things we’re very concerned about. Not only the new starts, but outflow winds," Hinatsu said. "If they hit in the right spot, it could perk these fires up. We’re poised for that. It’s all going to depend (on the) next day and a half on what happens."

The ODF fire danger level remains "extreme" on public lands in Jackson and Josephine counties. Under that advisory, the mowing of dead or dry grass, chainsaw use, the cutting, grinding or welding of metal are not allowed.

Vehicles, including ATVs, are allowed only on improved roads. Debris, barrel burning, fireworks, exploding targets and tracer ammunition are also prohibited. Open fires for camping and cooking are still prohibited on the Wild and Scenic Section of the Rogue River between Grave Creek and Marial. Smoking for travelers is prohibited, except on sand or gravel bars between the water and the high water mark where there is no flammable vegetation. Fireworks are also prohibited, and travelers must carry a shovel and a gallon bucket.