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Wildfire smoke expected through Wednesday

Smoke from Northern California wildfires forecast to creep into the Rogue Valley should start to clear out Wednesday night, the National Weather Service reported.

Winds were forecast to shift from the southeast to the south Tuesday afternoon, pushing smoke from numerous fires burning in California into Southern Oregon, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jay Stockton.

“You’ll see a lot down below,” he said. “I would say at this point that it could get down to at least unhealthy for sensitive groups Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Winds are expected to shift Wednesday evening from the north and northeast.

Wind across much of the Rogue Valley Monday ranged from 22 mph to 33 mph, spurring a red flag warning for the region. Despite that, fire activity was minimal in Jackson and Josephine counties. Oregon Department of Forestry crews pounced on a tree fire in the 5000 block of South Fork Little Butte Creek Road Tuesday afternoon, but no other fires were reported.

“We’re very thankful,” ODF public information officer Natalie Weber said.

Crews continued to make progress on other area fires burning since the beginning of the month. The South Obenchain fire, which ignited near Eagle Point Sept. 8, reached 96% containment Tuesday, fire officials reported. The 32,761-acre blaze has destroyed 33 homes and 56 other structures such as outbuildings.

Crews continued working toward full containment on the Slater and Devil fires in Northern California and southern Josephine County. No significant growth was reported on either of the fires in spite of the winds.

The 154,102-acre Slater fire was considered 40% contained Tuesday, and the 8,410-acre Devil fire remained at 18% containment.

“Even with the red flag warning (Monday), fire lookouts reported very little smoke from the Devil fire,” a news release said.

The two fires have destroyed 440 structures, including 197 houses. Officials added that the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office and remaining task forces have demobilized due to recent progress, though nearly 1,200 personnel remained on the front lines.

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