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Jackson County wildfire grows to 30 acres

A wildfire that flared up Thursday near Lakecreek grew overnight, and fire officials estimated Friday it could be as large as 30 acres.

The Heppsie Mountain fire is composed of two slow-moving fires burning on Heppsie Mountain Road, off Highway 140 near milepost 20.

Oregon Department of Forestry crews have contained a portion of the fire on private industrial land, and wildland crews from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will take on the remainder of the blaze, according to ODF public information officer Natalie Weber.

“We’ve pulled all of our crews just because the portion that we were responsible for is taken care of,” Weber said.

A containment percentage was not immediately available, and BLM officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The fire was reported just after 3 p.m. Thursday after area residents saw a column of dark smoke. Six engines and a dozer were dispatched to the scene, and firefighters remained overnight to bolster firelines.

It’s the second wildfire to flare up in Jackson County in a week. The Fry Peak fire roared to life Monday afternoon about 14 miles north of the town of Rogue River in an area undergoing salvage operations from the 8,886-acre Garner fire complex in 2018. The Fry Peak blaze grew to about 6 acres before crews lined a 10-acre perimeter and corralled it, Weber said. Officials have said the fire was “human-caused,” though the specific source is still under investigation.

ODF declared an end to this year’s 122-day fire season in southwest Oregon Sept. 30, but these types of fires can occur outside fire season because of the drying effect cold weather can have on the terrain.

“Freezing often works the same way as the heat of the sun,” Weber said. “It’ll actually dry out the vegetation and take that moisture out of it, and it’ll get to the point where it can be almost as dry as it is in the summer.”

Fire crews responded to a similar post-season fire in early November 2018 when the 13-acre I5MP4 fire broke out just off Interstate 5 near milepost 4, close to the Oregon-California border.

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

The Heppsie Mountain fire is burning on a hillside off Heppsie Mountain Road near Lakecreek. ODF photo