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National Guard called in to fight Taylor Creek fire

The Taylor Creek fire burning through more than 36,400 acres west of Grants Pass is getting a little help from Oregon’s citizen soldiers.

A team of 125 members of the Oregon National Guard, who completed a weeklong wildland firefighting training program in Salem, was to arrive today to aid the more than 1,200 personnel fighting the complex, according to a release issued by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. The fire was 34 percent contained Saturday.

A group of 147 Guardsmen and women arrived a few days ago to help fight the Garner Complex, which was holding steady at 8,800 acres with 75 percent containment.

Evacuations on the Taylor Creek fire have held steady since Thursday, according to reports on Inciweb. The American Red Cross reported 82 overnight stays and approximately 2,336 meals and snacks to evacuees at Grants Pass High School since July 24.

A Red Cross volunteer fair is slated for 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at Grants pass High School, 830 N.E. Ninth St., Grants Pass. More information is available at redcross.org/volunteer.

In Jackson County, owing to growing fire activity near Prospect, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office expanded its evacuation area tied to the Sugar Pine complex and nearby Miles fire.

The Sugar Pine complex, consisting of 19 lighting-caused wildfires, totaled 8,788 acres as of Saturday afternoon, according to Inciweb, and the Miles fire was at 12,387 acres as of Friday evening.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office expanded the western boundary of its level 3 “go” evacuation area along Elk Creek Drive Saturday, but the change does not affect any residences. Level 2 “be set” evacuations also were added north of Lost Creek Lake accessed via Takelma Drive.

Crews fighting the South Umpqua Complex, burning northwest of the Sugar Pine Complex, reported a merger between the two complexes overnight, and confirmed one structure lost on Elk Creek Road.

Crews are continuing work to protect structures under level 3 evacuations along Elk Creek Road, while reinforcing firelines north of Forest Road 6640. Fighting the complex are firefighters from as far away as Puerto Rico and Pennsylvania, according to Inciweb.

As of Saturday afternoon, the Sugar Pine complex consisted of 954 personnel including 38 crews, 13 fallers, 72 engines, 20 water tenders, 16 dozers, seven masticators and four helicopters. Utilizing the helicopters has been a challenge because of heavy smoke, according to an Inciweb report.

South Umpqua Complex

The Goodview fire in the South Umpqua complex merged with a fire in the Sugar Pine complex in the Hawk Creek drainage overnight Friday.

As of Saturday morning, the complex is at 23,726 acres and 18 percent contained. Resources fighting the fire totaling 1,032 personnel include 33 crews, 32 engines, 11 dozers, 32 tenders and five helicopters.

Klondike

The fire burning northwest of Selma has grown to 25,873 acres and is 5 percent contained as of Saturday morning, according to Inciweb.

As of Saturday evening, a Josephine County Sheriff’s Office level 3 “go” evacuation order for residences along Illinois River Road north of the 2.5 mile marker remained in effect.

Crews totaling 450 personnel are focused on burnout operations along the east side of the fire.

Natchez

The wildfire burning just south of the Oregon border between Happy Camp, California and Cave Junction is at 9,463 acres and is 25 percent contained as of Saturday afternoon, according to Inciweb.

Management of the fire switches to Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 early Sunday morning, and a community meeting with the new fire team is set in Northern California for 6 p.m. Aug. 5 at the Grange in Happy Camp.

Crews continue to focus on protecting the Northern California communities of Happy Camp and Indian Creek and near Kelly Lake as of Saturday morning. Moderate weather in the 70s and 80s, along with clear skies allowed crews to apply retardant along the ridge between Mud Lake and Kelly Lake Saturday.

Hendrix fire

The Hendrix fire, burning southwest of Ashland, is at 1,082 acres and 70 percent contained as of Saturday morning, according to Inciweb.

Improving humidity and cool temperatures are aiding firefighters, with lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s. However, crews also face steep and inaccessible terrain, among other hazards, putting a predicted containment date by the end of August.

National Guard photoThe National Guard is mobilized in Salem Saturday morning for deployment to the Taylor Creek fire near Merlin.