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Kalmiopsis fire grows to more than 100 acres

The U.S. Forest Service is deploying more firefighting aircraft and hotshot crews to southwestern Oregon after a number of fires in Josephine and Curry counties flared up Thursday night.

According to a U.S. Forest Service news release, the Buckskin fire, about six miles north of the California border and a mile south of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area, grew to more than 100 acres Thursday night. Officials said attempts to fight the fire with aircraft were foiled by wind, and fire crews on the ground weren't able to attack the blaze because of terrain, weather and safety issues. The fire is burning about 10 miles southwest of Cave Junction.

Forestry officials in Medford said Thursday the fire was believed to have been sparked by a wave of lightning strikes earlier in the week that caused fires throughout the region. Five more 20-person hotshot crews from throughout Oregon have been assigned to the fire, and four more helicopters have been ordered to join the two helicopters and an air tanker already working the fire, the release said.

The Associated Press reported Friday morning that a federal Type II fire management team had been called in to coordinate firefighting efforts because authorities fear the remote location and challenging terrain will make it difficult to contain the fire. The Buckskin fire is burning in stands of dead timber leftover from the Biscuit fire, which burned a half-million acres between July and December 2002.

Two small fires in the Wild Rivers Ranger District, the Red Dog fire southwest of Onion Mountain and the Little Onion fire southeast of Galice, are reportedly contained, the release said.

Fire crews are also dealing with a number of smaller fires in the Gold Beach and High Cascades ranger districts ranging from 0.1 acres to 4 acres in size. Most have been reported as contained, the release said. The Oregon Department of Forestry said Friday the fire danger level of the Wild and Scenic section of the Rogue River would be raised to the second-highest level, yellow, starting Saturday.

This photo from the U.S. Forest Service shows the Buckskin fire burning in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area about 10 miles from Cave Junction.