Taylor Creek fire closes areas along Rogue River; more evacuations ordered
The Taylor Creek fire burning near Grants Pass grew to almost 25,000 acres Monday, prompting more evacuation orders and the closure of federal lands and recreation areas along the Rogue River north of the fire.
According to a report released by the Joint Information Center, which is providing information on southwest Oregon fires, the Taylor Creek fire remains the largest of the fires started by a lightning storm on the morning of July 15. It is part of the larger Garner Complex, which totals about 34,000 acres. The Taylor Creek fire — which has burned to within five miles west of Merlin — was considered only 6 percent contained Monday, while the remaining 9,000 acres of fire is listed as 60 percent contained.
Shortly before 2:30 p.m. Monday, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office ordered more Level 3 “Go” evacuations, due to planned firefighting operations, including backburns, for the Taylor Creek fire.
The evacuation order includes Indian Mary Park on the Rogue River and numerous addresses on Galice Creek Road and Galice Road.
The sheriff’s office urged people to leave immediately and not make efforts to gather belongings or protect their homes. It said this may be the last notice they would receive.
A Red Cross evacuation shelter is set up at Grants Pass High School, 830 N.E. Ninth St. An animal evacuation center is open at the Josephine County Fairgrounds Floral Building at 1451 Fairgrounds Road, Grants Pass.
The Taylor Creek fire is now being managed separately from the other Garner Complex fires. There are more than 2,600 firefighters working on the Garner and Taylor Creek fires.
The Bureau of Land Management said Monday it was closing public lands along the Merlin-Galice Road, from Hog Creek at the Rogue River west to the Rainie Falls trailhead. The BLM release says the closure will be in place until the fire is declared controlled or the agency determines public access is safe.
The Rogue River itself remains open, but access will be limited in the affected area. Hog Creek is a popular put-in spot for river rafters and the Rainie Falls trailhead is just above the boat ramp for the Rogue River’s Wild and Scenic section.
According to a posting on Inciweb.com, a large plume of smoke from the Klondike fire burning about seven miles to the southwest in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness shaded the Taylor Creek fire Sunday and provided some relief from the hot, dry conditions. Firefighters continued to build firelines on the southeast flank of the fire and worked through the night to prevent the fire from spreading toward the Shan and Pickett Creek areas and the community of Galice.
The fire remains south and west of the Rogue River. Crews were working to build and reinforce firelines above Pickett Creek and south of Galice Road. State Fire Marshal crews are working around homes ahead of the fire, clearing brush and setting up hoselines in the Limpy and Shan Creek areas while also mopping up around structures in already secured areas.
Updates on other fires in the region:
Now separate from the Taylor Creek fire, the Garner Complex fire is comprised of the Grave Creek, Pleasant Creek, Spencer Creek and King Mountain fires, and is burning a total of 8,886 acres and is 60 percent contained, according to a Monday news release.
The Grave Creek fire is the largest and most active of the fires in the complex, burning 7,816 acres, according to the release. Crews are continuing to secure the area and build more lines around the fire.
The Pleasant Creek fire is at 835 acres; the Spencer Creek fire is at 228 acres, and the King Mountain fire is at 6 acres.
Sugar Pine complex
The complex of 19 fires burning near Prospect east and west of Highway 62 has grown to 5,257 acres, according to a Monday news release.
The two largest fires in the complex are the Sugar Pine and Goodview fires, which are zero percent contained. The Sugar Pine fire has grown to 3,447 acres and the Goodview fire is at 1,527 acres.
Crews Monday were focused on protecting the nearly 30 residences along the Elk Creek drainage. Additional homes, further from the path of the fires, are also being assessed for defense. Personnel battling the fire totaled to 848 Monday.
Seeing again little-to-no major growth in recent days, the Hendrix fire burning 9 miles southwest of Ashland is at 1,081 acres and is 70 percent contained, according to a Monday press release.
Personnel Monday were scouting the area for opportunities to increase containment as part of a full suppression strategy, the release said. The expected containment date has changed from July 31 to August 31 due to open, unburned lines in the southeast corner of the fire, and the potential for active fire due to hot and dry weather.
The Rogue River-Siskiyou National fire area closure for the southern portion of the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District remains in effect.
South Umpqua complex
The South Umpqua complex fire, burning 45 miles southeast of Roseburg, has grown to 13,168 acres and is 16 percent contained, according to a Monday news release.
A recent successful burnout took place along the north side of the Miles fire, which helped strengthen fire lines, according to the release. Mop-up operations for the Columbus and Snowshoe fires were continued Monday.
The Klondike fire, burning 9 miles northwest of Selma and 15 miles southeast of Agness, is at 15,915 acres and is 5 percent contained, according to a Monday news release.
The fire is burning in the boundaries of the Biscuit fire and on the edge of the Chetco Bar fire, two of the biggest fires in Southern Oregon history.
The fire saw growth in the northeast perimeter over the weekend, according to the release. Poor visibility Monday due to smoke limited the use of air resources on the fire.
A Level 3 “Go” evacuation remains in effect for Oak Flat at the end of the Illinois River Road in Josephine County. Illinois River Road from mile post 2.5 to Oak Flat is at a Level 2, “Get Ready.”
The Natchez fire, burning 15 miles southeast of Cave Junction, is at 5,360 acres and is 10 percent contained, according to a Monday news release.
Crews Monday planned to continue low-intensity burning operations along the dozer line on the north end of the fire, and prepare for other dozer lines to continue to provide opportunities to remove fuels between containment lines and the main fire, according the release.
Crews also planned to conduct a low-intensity burn operation around Kelly Lake in an effort to remove light fuels and reduce the opportunity for the main fire to spread.
Timber Crater 6 fire
Seeing little growth in multiple days, the Timber Crater 6 fire is burning 3,126 acres and is 75 percent contained, according to a Monday news release.
The eastern flank of Timber Crater 6 fire, which is burning in the northeast corner of Crater Lake National Park, is in patrol status, according to the release. Crews on the north and west perimeters Monday were securing containment line, while crews on the southern boundary conducted mop-up operations.