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Difficult terrain, dry weather complicate firefighters’ efforts

Fire officials who met with U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden Sunday said difficult terrain and ongoing dry weather are complicating their efforts to beat back blazes that have now burned more than 70,000 acres in Southern Oregon.

These are particularly true within the Klondike fire, which is burning in an area affected last year by the Chetco Bar fire and the 2002 Biscuit fire before that. Firefighters are resurrecting dozer lines (fire lines constructed with the front blade of a bulldozer) used during both of the previous fires, trying to stop the fire from spreading east and further into the Chetco Bar fire scar.

The Klondike fire grew to 13,922 acres by Sunday afternoon, according to an update from the Southwest Oregon Join Information Center. It remained at 5 percent contained. Personnel rose to 393 people.

As of Sunday morning, a Level 3 “go” evacuation remained in effect for Oak Flat at the end of the Illinois River Road.

An animal evacuation shelter is also established at the Josephine County Fairgrounds, managed by Friends of the Shelter and Southern Oregon Emergency Aid.

Here are updates on other Southern Oregon Fires:

Garner Complex

Fire crews made headway on the Garner Complex Sunday: acreage remained at 29,039 and containment grew from 27 to 30 percent. Smoke from the Klondike fire helped lower temperatures in the Taylor Creek fire area by blocking out sunlight, a Department of Forestry update said Sunday.

Evacuations stemming from the Pleasant Creek and Grave Creek fires, part of the garner Complex, were reduced. Pleasant Creek Road addresses formerly in the Level 3 “go” reduced to a Level 2 “be set.” Graves Creek Road addresses at Level 2 “be set” were reduced to Level 1 “be ready.”

A total 2,683 people were assigned to the Garner Complex fire Sunday.

Hendrix fire

Merv George told Wyden Hendrix is “in the best shape” of all the Southern Oregon fires. The Joint Information Center update had no new numbers since Saturday on the 1,081-acre fire southwest of Ashland. It was still 70 percent contained, with an expected containment date of Aug. 31.

Sugar Pine fire

This is the collective name for 19 fires in the High Cascades Ranger District, named after the biggest individual fire among them. That fire grew Saturday by almost 700 acres and was reported 3 percent contained Sunday at 10 a.m.

Other smaller fires were reported at greater containments, such as 68 percent on the Union fire, burning 106 acres.

The land affected by the fires is managed by both the Bureau of Land Management and ODF, bounded by private land and sections of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Highway 62 travelers are encouraged to be aware of slow-moving fire traffic near Joseph Stewart State Park and to drive with headlights on.

A total 821 personnel are working on the Sugar Pine fire.

Natchez fire

The Natchez fire grew to 4,616 acres by Sunday afternoon and was 10 percent contained. Assigned personnel dropped slightly, to 732 people. A community meeting was held at Happy Camp Sunday at 6 p.m.

South Umpqua complex

The complex reached 11,731 combined acres and was 14 percent contained Sunday afternoon. A level 2 evacuation applying to the Elk Creek Road area remains in effect.

Timber Crater 6 fire

This fire, burning northeast of Crater Lake, grew by a single acre according to the Join Information Center update, reaching 3,126 acres. It held at 65 percent containment.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

The Hendrix fire early on. The fire is at the highest percent containment among fires burning in Southern Oregon.