Almeda fire 60% contained; hazards remain
The Almeda fire had minimal growth overnight and was 60% contained as of Sunday morning, officials said in an update.
Fire crews continue to focus their efforts inside the fire line to mitigate hazardous conditions which include fire debris, unstable structures, downed utility lines and venting of natural gas lines.
Officials urge the public to stay away from evacuation zones as crews actively work to address the hazardous conditions.
Officials expect temperatures to reach the mid-80s today and remain in that range for the next several days.
The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for wind from 3-8 p.m. Sunday. Winds from the west and northwest are predicted to blow at 10-15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph.
Wind storms fanned the fast-moving Almeda fire that started Tuesday, Sept. 8, in Ashland and tore through Talent and Phoenix, destroying businesses, individual homes and whole neighborhoods.
All of Jackson County is under a Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation alert because of the possibility of winds pushing the South Obenchain fire in northern Jackson County, causing flare-ups of smoldering hot spots in the county and fanning any new fires that break out.
Portions of Talent and Phoenix remain under Level 2 "Be Set" and Level 3 "Go" evacuation alerts due to continuing hazards. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office has allowed residents in "Be Set" evacuation zones to return to their homes or look to see if their homes survived.
To view a map of evacuation zones in Jackson County, see jacksoncounty.org/evacuation.
The Jackson County Expo, 1 Peninger Road, Central Point, is serving as a major evacuation point and shelter for displaced residents.
Resources assigned to the Almeda fire include 48 personnel, 12 engines and 4 water tenders.
As the Almeda fire transitions to a more stabilized phase of the incident, managers have begun to plan for the recovery phase. A hazardous materials team will be arriving from Coos County, as well as an Urban Search and Rescue Team with members from Utah and Nevada. Those two teams will assist with damage assessment, hazard mitigation and detailed searches, local officials said Sunday.
Air quality conditions are hazardous due to thick smoke throughout Jackson County.
For updates on air quality conditions, visit Oregon's Air Quality Index map at oregon.envi-das.com/home/map.
Air quality monitors for Ashland and Medford have shown air quality levels above 300, putting those areas in the hazardous category for days. An air quality monitor in Shady Cove near the South Obenchain fire has not been functioning.
Air quality levels have spiked above 500 in some areas of the state, including parts of the Portland metro area and Sisters in Central Oregon.