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Ramsey Canyon fire threatens 200 homes

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared the Ramsey Canyon fire, burning near Sams Valley in Jackson County, a conflagration Thursday, clearing the way for the state fire marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire.

The fire, which is burning south of the Garner fire complex around Hull Mountain near Ramsey Road and East Evans Creek Road, was listed as “human caused” on Inciweb Thursday; however, a call to a fire official seeking more details was not immediately returned.

Crews had the 800-acre Ramsey Canyon fire 15 percent contained Thursday, with firefighters completing dozer and hand lines around roughly 30 percent of the fire’s perimeter overnight. More than 360 Oregon Department of Forestry personnel were working on the fire. More than 200 structures remain threatened. Thursday’s weather forecast called for winds with gusts reaching up to 25 mph. That and the uneven terrain complicate firefighting efforts, officials said.

“It’s that perfect storm of pretty rough, rugged ground with winds and alignment,” Cano said. “Therefore, because it’s so steep, it’s difficult to build a large enough fire line.”

The fast-moving fire started Wednesday and spread quickly despite an aggressive initial attack by firefighters on the ground who were aided by helicopter drops.

The fire is in the same location as the 1994 Hull Mountain fire, according to Oregon Department of Forestry public information officer Melissa Cano. The Hull Mountain fire reached 7,990 acres before it was contained, Cano said, and it claimed one life, according to official updates Thursday afternoon.

“Today is actually the anniversary date of that fire,” Cano said.

The Office of State Marshal’s Green Incident Management Team and four structural task forces from Lincoln, Klamath, Coos and Lane counties arrived Thursday morning and began working to protect structures. Two additional task forces from Lane and Linn-Benton counties were expected to arrive on scene Thursday evening to work the night shift, officials said.

A Level 3 “Go” evacuation was put in place Thursday for Ramsey Road, beginning at address 13469 and proceeding north to the Meadows Road intersection, and Meadows Road proceeding south from East Evans Creek Road to include the addresses of 16880. The 13469 Ramsey Road address is roughly seven miles north of Highway 234.

That evacuation area includes about 50 individual addresses, although it’s not clear how many of those are residences.

Level 2 “Get Set” evacuations were upgraded to Level 3 late Thursday for East Evans Creek Road, beginning at address 17935 and proceeding east to include addresses 18504 and 18508.

Level 2 evacuation notices were still in place for East Evans Creek Road from address 19395 through 21043, for Meadows Road from address 16800 and 16821 south to address 14765; and for Ramsey Road from address 13465 to 11655.

According to a Thursday afternoon news release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, a shelter for families and companion animals was being organized at Hanby Middle School in Gold Hill, at 806 Sixth Ave., and a temporary shelter for livestock was being organized at The Expo in Central Point.

People who would like to utilize the shelter at The Expo were asked to contact Linda Bacon at 541-226-1124 or Expo staff at 541-821-8406.

More information on evacuations is available at Ramsey Canyon on a dedicated Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RamseyCanyonFireInfo.

Other area fires

Area fire crews continue to make progress on several wildfires burning across southwest Oregon.

The Klondike fire — the biggest of the bunch at 79,501 acres as of Thursday — was 37 percent contained. It is one of two fires burning west of Grants Pass. Crews have nearly completed containment on the nearby Taylor Creek wildfire. It had burned 52,777 acres Thursday and was 95 percent contained.

The Natchez fire, burning near Cave Junction just over the California border, was 23,228 acres and 70 percent contained.

In Jackson County, crews fighting the 34,920-acre Miles fire burning northeast of Trail said it was 45 percent contained. The nearby Columbus fire was 55 percent contained and 10,061 acres.

The Hendrix fire burning outside Ashland was 90 percent contained and hasn’t budged from its 1,082-acre footprint in weeks.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468.

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

(Image of Ramsey Canyon fire by Oregon Department of Forestry)