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Medford rainfall hits record, halts fire

Record rainfall in the Rogue Valley today doused a roughly 600 acre wildfire burning southeast of Shady Cove.

Between 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. today, a record-setting 0.44 of an inch of rain fell at the Medford airport, breaking the former 1976-set Aug. 13 rainfall record of 0.37 of an inch, said Misty Duncan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford.

"It was definitely a significant amount of rain for Jackson County this time of year," she said.

 Brian Ballou, fire prevention specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said fire crews reported heavy rain today on the Rogue River Drive fire.

Crews have built line around the entire fire and are working to mop up all hotspots up to 100 feet inside the perimeter, Ballou said.

The blaze is 40 percent contained, he said.

Late Tuesday, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act to mobilize a state team of firefighters help battle the blaze; however, the state team was demobilized and left the fire early this afternoon due to minimal fire activity, Ballou said.

An evacuation advisory for the Rogue River Drive Fire has been lowered because of the wet weather and progress on the front lines, the Jackson County Sheriff's Department reported.

A level three evacuation advisory — go now — for Dry Creek Road has been lowered to a level one — get ready.

The level one advisory remains in effect for Rhodes Lane, Kitty Lane, Osprey Drive, Greenleaf Drive, and Colfax Way.

"There are still smokes rising up you can see off Rogue River Drive, but obviously the rain took care of quite a lot of the hot spots," Ballou said.

The lightning-sparked fire popped up Monday afternoon after a thunderstorm, and crews had it under control at about 100 acres Tuesday morning, but erratic afternoon winds pushed the flames over the south and southeast containment lines.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.