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UPDATED: Klamathon Fire hits 35,000-acre mark

The Klamathon Fire reached 35,000 acres in size Sunday, with crews estimating about 25 percent containment on the blaze burning near the Oregon-California border.

The fire, which roared to life Thursday, reached the 35,000-acre mark by 7 p.m., tacking on about 4,500 more acres after hitting 30,500 at about 7 a.m.

A contingent of 2,354 firefighters were working on the front lines Sunday, according to information from the Oregon Department of Forestry and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Several Jackson County areas remain under a level 3 — "go" — evacuation notice. They include the Colestin Road area from the Oregon-California border to the Mount Ashland Ski Road and Highway 99 from the border to Mount Ashland Ski Road. The area east of I-5 covering lands and private properties east of the Jackson-Klamath county line, north of the Oregon-California border and south of a line that extends from the intersection of I-5 and the Mount Ashland Ski Road due east to the Jackson-Klamath county line is also under a level 3 advisory.

Old Highway 99 to just below Callahan's Lodge and the Mount Ashland Ski Road from Mount Ashland down to Highway 99 remain under a level 2 — "be set" — evacuation notice. The area east of I-5 covering BLM lands west of the Jackson-Klamath county line, north of the line that extends from the intersection of I-5 and the Mount Ashland Ski Road due east to the Jackson-Klamath county line, north to Highway 66 is, too.

Bureau of Land Management hiking areas just outside Ashland remain closed because of the fire, including Emigrant Creek Road, Baldy Creek Road, Soda Mountain Road, Pilot Rock Road, the Lone Pilot Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail from Highway 66 west to the boundary of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. All BLM lands and roads within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument southeast of Ashland are also closed.

About 600 homes in the California communities of Hornbrook and Hilt, and in Colestin, Oregon remain threatened, a joint agency news release reads. Two power plants at Iron Gate Reservoir and Copco Lake Reservoir are also threatened, as are water systems for Yreka and Hornbrook, the release says. So far, the fire has destroyed 72 structures and has damaged an additional nine.

An evacuation center remains open at Jackson Elementary School, 405 Jackson St., Yreka.Small animals can be taken there, while large animals can be taken to a shelter at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds, 1712 Fairlane Road, Yreka.

Ashland High School will reopen as an additional evacuation center if necessary.

Three firefighters have been injured fighting the fire so far. One civilian has died.

On the Oregon side of the border, crews are working toward buttoning up some fire lines on the northeastern flank, hopefully preventing the blaze's advance into Oregon from continuing.

"Right now, we're looking pretty good on the Oregon side, knock on wood," said ODF public information officer Melissa Cano, but wind continues to be a tricky issue, she cautioned.

The fire's northern and southeastern flanks are key areas of focus for crews on the California side, the former because of the abundance of timber, the latter because of winds from the north and northwest that have continued to push the flames to the southeast.

"We definitely want to keep it from progressing any farther to the north," said Klamathon Fire public information officer Celeste Prescott.

Winds from the north are expected to continue until at least Tuesday, with intensity increasing to about 25 mph gusts on Monday, then calming to lighter winds on Tuesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Sven Nelaimischkies. There is a chance for some new thunderstorms Friday and Saturday.

So far, air quality in Medford and Ashland has maintained a "good" level, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality index. Klamath Falls' air quality dipped into the "unsafe for sensitive groups" range Saturday, and hovered at "moderate" Sunday. Yreka air quality had dipped to "unhealthy" Sunday.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468.

Photo submitted by{ }Lukaiel Reece-Sullivan shows the Klamathon Fire burning Saturday night.{ }
Photo submitted by Lukaiel Reece-Sullivan shows the Klamathon Fire burning Saturday night.{ }