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Rain reduces fire danger

The good news is the weather is expected to begin clearing today and the Rogue Valley can expect more sunny days by the weekend. The bad news is the little bit of rain the Valley received on Sunday and Monday was not enough to put an end to the 2006 fire season.

Ashland received just over a third of an inch of rain on Sunday and Monday, and although forest fire alert level was dropped from high on Friday to moderate by Sunday, there are still some restrictions in place. Open burns are still prohibited but chain saws and other spark-generating equipment are now permitted.

Brian Ballou, Fire Prevention Specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, said fire season could be called off with one more good rain but doesn't know when that precipitation will come.

"The weather forecasts have been kind of murky," he said. "We could get rain this weekend. Or it could miss us and hit the rest of the state, as happens sometimes."

Katie Burtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford, said she expects the weather to begin clearing up today.

The rain "should be tapering off by this afternoon," she said, adding that her forecast calls for sunny skies by Thursday which should last throughout the weekend.

She said the recent wet weather is not a sign that the rainy season has arrived. "I wouldn't say that yet," Burtis said. "We usually have one or two systems come through in October."

There is a high pressure system &

usually indicative of clear, sunny weather &

building off the Oregon/Washington coast, she said. "It looks nice for the rest of the week at least.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or