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Winds could complicate firefighting, but lightning a no-show

Firefighters are bracing for increased winds through the weekend on the combined Taylor Creek and Klondike fires, which together now total more than 115,000 acres.

Wind gusts up to 20 mph are forecast for this afternoon on the Klondike fire, which is the more active of the two fires and is burning a few miles west of Selma in Josephine County. In the southeast part of the Klondike fire, winds are expected to push fire away from people and homes east of Highway 199 and toward Babyfoot Road. Firefighters are in place to hold the fireline and continue to protect structures in the area.

The fire was active along the Illinois River Road west of Selma where crews continue to defend homes. Rosenblatt House, McCaleb Ranch, Chittim House and all other structures were reported as safe. Fire crews were setting up defensive lines along Babyfoot Road and drones were being used to set backfires.

The Josephine County sheriff has placed residents west of Highway 199 and south of Eight Dollar Mountain to the Califorenia border under a "Be Ready" Level 1 evacuation order. Current evacuation information is at http://bit.ly/joco-evac.

While the Taylor Creek and Klondike fires have grown together, they are still being reported individually, with the Klondike fire listed at 62,731 acres Friday morning and the Taylor Creek fire reported at 52,222 acres. Taylor Creek, which is burning west of Grants Pass and Merlin, was listed as 52 percent contained, while the Klondike fire remained at only 15 percent contained. Both fires were started by lightning on July 15.

A total of about 1,600 firefighters are assigned to the two fires.

Crews continue to patrol and mop up on the north and east perimeters of the Taylor Creek fire. Fire growth was reported as minimal along the western perimeter.

Bear Camp and Peavine roads remain closed west of the Galice area on the Rogue River. Firefighters say the risk of trees and other debris falling on the roads remains high.

Lightning a no-show

Meanwhile, firefighters on the Miles, Columbus and Snow Shoe fires north of Lost Creek Lake in Jackson County got a break from the weather Thursday, as predicted afternoon dry lightning failed to materialize.

As a result, they were able to make progress on several fronts, with the smallest of the three fires, the Snow Shoe fire, declared 100 percent contained. In all, the three fires have burned more than 46,000 acres.

The Miles fire, at 32,715 acres, was listed as 30 percent contained Friday morning. Crews were dousing hot spots and working to keep the fire south of Forest Service Road 1610 on the fire's northwest corner. Burnout operations were expected to continue on the northeast corner, with Forest Service Road 6640 serving as a containment line.

The Columbus Fire, at 9,762 acres, was listed at 28 percent contained. The fire was moving slowly along the burn scar left by the 2017 Broken Lookout fire. Crews were working inward from Forest Service roads and performing mop-up operations.

The Snow Shoe fire's final acreage is listed at 3,816 acres. Some smoldering and light burning remains within the fire's interior, but fire growth has been stopped. Mop up operations continue, along with salvage logging.

More than 2,100 firefighters are on the Miles, Columbus and Snow Shoe fires.