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Butte Falls, Shady Cove warned to evacuate immediately

The Jackson County Sheriff's Office issued a Level 3 "Go" evacuation notice due to the growth of the fast-moving, erratic South Obenchain fire in northern Jackson County on Thursday.

People should evacuate from the area immediately.

The "Go" evacuation zone includes Shady Cove and Butte Falls. The zone extends north to the Lost Creek Reservoir, south to Highway 140 and across that highway to the south, to the area in and around Shady Cove to the west and beyond the community of Butte Falls to the east.

People in the Butte Falls area should evacuate to the east on Butte Falls Road to Highway 140. They could run into fire danger and firefighting equipment if they try to evacuate west on Butte Falls Road, Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming said Thursday night.

People in the north of the evacuation zone should evacuate to the south via Highway 62. Vehicles needing to pass through Shady Cove will be escorted.

The whole southern edge and most of the eastern side of the Level 3 "Go" evacuation zone is bordered by a Level 2 "Be Set" evacuation zone. The "Be Set" zone includes areas to the north and east of Eagle Point.

For updates on evacuation maps and to view detailed evacuation maps showing specific roads and communities, visit jacksoncounty.org/evacuation.

The Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point is serving as an evacuation point and shelter.

The South Obenchain fire was estimated at 20,500 acres on Thursday.

The fire was very active Thursday, with running and spotting one-third of a mile ahead of the blaze, according to an 8 p.m. update from the Medford District Bureau of Land Management.

A good dozer line has been established and is holding on the south perimeter of the fire in the Worthington Road area. On the west and northwest perimeters, the fire is backing down off of Highway 62, the BLM said.

Retardant was used to cool the fire and allow for the construction of dozer line. Spot fires are burning in Indian Creek. The focus will be to contain the spot fires and protect Shady Cove, the BLM said.

The fire made a major push to the southeast toward Butte Falls, triggering the Level 3 "Go" evacuation alert in that area, officials said.

At one point during the fire fight, an aerial drone was reported over the fire area. Entire air operations must be shut down in those circumstances until the air space is reported clear, the BLM said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.

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