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Prospect fire grows in excessive heat

Several wildfires are burning across the region as the heat continues.

The 1,241-acre Blanket Creek fire, located near the Cold Springs trailhead nine miles northeast of Prospect in the Red Blanket Creek drainage, was considered 7 percent contained Tuesday, according to information on the InciWeb Incident Information System website. Sparked by lightning and reported July 25, the fire is expected to be contained by Aug. 9.

Crews have been hitting the fire hard, lining more than six miles of its perimeter and pummeling the flames with nine retardant drops from aircraft Monday. Crews continue to use trails and roads around the fire to improve containment lines.

It's currently the largest wildfire in Jackson County and the fourth-largest in the state. Another lightning-sparked blaze, the Spruce Lake fire, is burning about six miles west of Crater Lake National Park. That fire was 194 acres as of Monday night and is about 5 percent contained. There are 827 personnel fighting both fires, according to public information officer Cheyne Rossbach.

The biggest concern right now is the heat, Rossbach said, adding that the chance for new fires is high.

"We're seeing really low fuel moisture, so there's a lot of potential there," Rossbach said. "It's holding. We haven't had any big wind events or anything like that."

Smoke from wildfires across the region has affected air quality, casting a haze on parts of the Rogue Valley and dropping air-quality levels in Medford and Ashland to "moderate," according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality air quality index.

Smoke has drifted in from two fires in western Siskiyou County, California, though the Blanket Creek fire and the 2,877-acre Chetco Bar fire, burning in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness north of the Chetco River, have also contributed.

"It's difficult to pin it down," weather service meteorologist Brett Lutz said of the haze.

The Blanket Creek fire is burning in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near Prospect. [InciWeb photo]