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Happy Camp Complex smoke lingers

Smoke from the Happy Camp Complex in Northern California continued to bring hazy skies to the Rogue Valley over the weekend, but wind kept smoke from the new Onion Mountain fire west of Grants Pass out of the Medford area.

The Happy Camp Complex wildfires, which started in mid-August, had burned more than 111,900 acres as of Sunday. They were at 55 percent containment, according to incident managers.

Medford air quality for a 24-hour period from Saturday to Sunday evening dipped into the "moderate" category, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and by Sunday evening the air quality had improved to the "good" category.

Fire agencies have 1,864 people, 13 helicopters, 65 engines, 18 dozers and 38 water tenders working the Happy Camp complex in rugged mountains in northern California.

The complex grew by 1,470 acres on Saturday, incident managers said.

A community meeting is planned at 6 p.m. Monday at the Fort Jones City Hall and Community Center, 11960 East St., Fort Jones, Calif. to update area residents on fire suppression efforts.

Meanwhile, firefighters, air tankers and helicopters continued to attack the new Onion Mountain fire that was first reported Saturday morning west of Grants Pass

The fire was estimated at 200 acres on Sunday morning, but the size of the fire was unknown Sunday evening.

An airplane was scheduled to fly over the fire at midnight Sunday to measure its size, said Oregon Department of Forestry Public Information Officer Brian Ballou.

"People are streaming in now. They're gearing up that this is going to be a fire they're going to be working on for a while. It's currently not threatening homes. With fire movement, it could become a problem, " Ballou said.

The Onion Mountain fire was sending up billowing clouds of smoke, but winds Sunday were pushing smoke to the north, away from Grants Pass and Medford.

The National Weather Service in Medford has forecast a slight chance of thunderstorms Monday with wind from the southeast during the day followed by wind from the west.

Tuesday is forecast to be hot in the day, then partly cloudy in the evening, with wind from the west and northwest.

A chance of showers is forecast for Wednesday and Thursday, followed by clear weather Friday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Forecast.

Reach reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or by email at valdous@mailtribune.com.