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Wildfire surges past 400 acres

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CHILOQUIN — A wildfire in Klamath County cracked the 400-acre mark Thursday, but fire officials estimated they would be able to contain the fire overnight.

The Bray Mill fire was burning about 4 miles northeast of Chiloquin on the Fremont-Winema National Forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It was reported at 3 p.m. Wednesday and surged to about 200 acres by Wednesday night.

Firefighters battled the blaze overnight. Winema and Lakeview interagency hotshot crews were joined by four engines, two dozers and a water tender. The Oregon Department of Forestry and Chiloquin Rural Fire Protection District also assisted. By late Thursday morning, the fire had grown to 405 acres and was 25% contained.

Firefighters said progress on the fire was largely due to previous fuel-reduction and forest-restoration projects in the area.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, though officials said it was not associated with a recent prescribed burn that took place about 4 miles away.

“With the snow melting and things starting to dry out, every day brings increased risk of wildfire and brings the forest closer to fire season,” a Forest Service news release said. “Spring in the area also brings variable temperatures, increased winds and conditions that can help fire spread rapidly.”

The Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District, which covers 1.8 million acres of state, county, private and Bureau of Land Management land in Jackson and Josephine counties, announced this week that fire season would start no later than June 1.

A light haze that hung over the Rogue Valley Thursday was not from the fire, but likely from debris burns, said National Weather Service meteorologist Shad Keene.

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

The Bray Mill fire burns Wednesday afternoon northeast of Chiloquin in Klamath County. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)
The Bray Mill fire burns overnight Wednesday northeast of Chiloquin in Klamath County. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service)