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Fire crews deserve thanks for rapid responses

While California fire agencies had their hands full battling the explosive McKinney fire in Siskiyou County, Oregon Department of Forestry crews scrambled to chase down smoke reports after lightning peppered forests in the Butte Falls area.

ODF, along with U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management resources, were responding to eight reports of light smoke in northeastern Jackson County, named the Midnight Complex.

The rapid response, involving multiple engines, helicopters and fire crews, is typical of the aggressive approach the agencies are taking toward every report of smoke or fire. So far, they have been successful in preventing fires from spreading. Rainfall has helped some, and high winds have not been a problem.

This week’s activity follows a successful attack on a structure fire Friday that ignited spot fires, spreading to 5 acres before firefighters got a handle on it. Again, that quick reaction and the use of helicopter water drops prevented what could have been a much larger fire. ODF crews assisted Fire District 3, and other agencies pitched in as well.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office issued Level 2 “Be Set” evacuation notices for residents in the area of Foothill and Corey roads shortly before 6 p.m. Friday. About three hours later, that alert was downgraded to Level 1.

Thanks in part to local first responders, Jackson County residents have so far been spared the need to flee the advancing flames of out-of-control wildfires. Northern California residents haven’t been so fortunate, and the smoke that has blanketed our area is a reminder of what can happen despite the best efforts of firefighters.

As you go about your business on these scorching summer days, know that while you may not hear of new wildfires or see giant plumes of smoke, it doesn’t mean there are no fires. Crews flying reconnaissance aircraft and on the ground are out searching for every report of smoke and pouncing on every fire they find, no matter how small. We owe them our thanks, and our cooperation in observing fire season restrictions.