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Garner Complex grows to nearly 8,000 acres

Northwest Jackson County residents were told to evacuate their homes late Sunday afternoon.

Areas along the 6000 block and 7000 block of Pleasant Creek Road were given the word after Grave Creek Fire No. 3 kicked up Sunday.

Oregon Department of Forestry said National Guard arrived Sunday morning to assist Garner Complex security at roadblocks in active fire areas and evacuation zones. A Red Cross Shelter is set up at Grants Pass High School

The Oregon State Fire Marshall said it is adding three more task forces, bringing the total to nine. The additional task forces assigned to the Grave Fire, Pleasant Creek Fire and Taylor Creek Fire areas will assess and protect homes and structures near the fires.

Saturday night, the Garner Complex spread to nearly 8,000 acres as crews worked to tighten direct firelines and work on contingency lines. Close to 400 structures are threatened after fire spread on the south side onto Forest Service ground.

Very unhealthy air piled up in the south county as north winds pushed smoke from a series of fires in Jackson, Josephine and Douglas counties against the Siskiyous.

As of 7 p.m. Sunday night Shady Cove, Medford and Ashland were all unhealthy, according to Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality index.

Don’t expect improvement any time soon.

“The smoke seems to be heading southward,” Brad Schaaf of the Medford National Weather Service office.

National Weather Service satellite images Sunday evening showed thunderstorms moving northeast through California communities of Etna, Fort Jones and Yreka, heading over the Siskiyous towards Klamath County.

Lightning strikes were already reported in Montague, Gazelle and Weed, Schaaf said.

“We could see a thunderstorm pop up over the Siskiyous (Monday),” Schaaf said. “But as far as anything bringing moisture and relief from the smoke, we’re not expecting that to happen anytime soon.”

The Hendrix Fire, southwest of Ashland, has consumed more than 1,000 acres, growing 12 percent on Saturday. More than 500 firefighters are battling on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and private land. Containment as of Sunday was 15 percent and fire command is still pursuing total containment by July 31.

“We’re still playing tug of war with the fire, trying to direct it where we want it to go,” said Hendrix Fire spokesman Scott Crawford.

The Klondike and Granite Fires, 9 mile northwest of Selma have grown together and will be referred to as the Klondike Fire, which has consumed 4,524 acres. The rugged area is deemed unsafe for fire crews. Heavy equipment is being used to improve existing roads and old fire lines on the eastern and southern sides of the fire. The Natchez Fire, 15 miles southeast of Cave Junction, is at 1,554.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or gstiles@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness or www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.

A plane drops retardant on the Taylor fire, part of the Garner Complex. Photo from Inciweb.