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Northern Oregon firefighters boost Southern Oregon ranks

Firefighters walk toward a break area after battling the 2020 Worthington fire east of Eagle Point in this file photo. Jamie Lusch/Mail Tribune
Firefighters will focus on initial attack as danger grows

Two firefighting teams from northwest Oregon are bolstering the ranks of Southern Oregon firefighters during what could be a dangerous Fourth of July weekend.

The teams will focus on initial attack, the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office said.

That’s the critical early stage when firefighters attack in hopes of stopping small blazes from growing into out-of-control wildfires.

The state fire marshal’s office deployed a task force of firefighters from Clatsop County and a second task force from Clackamas to help in Southern Oregon.

The two teams were scheduled to position themselves in Klamath County starting Friday for a mission that will last at least three days, the fire marshal’s office said.

“Being stationed in Klamath County reduces their response time dramatically if they are needed in initial attack in Southern Oregon,” said Alison Green, public affairs director for the state fire marshal’s office.

The teams can respond to Jackson County if needed, she said.

Combined, the two teams have 26 people and come with eight engines, two water tenders and two command vehicles, Green said.

If any Southern Oregon fire does escape initial attack efforts and grows into a larger incident, the Northern Oregon firefighters could be assigned to that fire, Green said.

Southern Oregon is in the midst of a multiyear drought and saw high temperature records broken or equaled in several cities in June. The area remains under a heat advisory.

The National Weather Service predicts a high of 103 degrees for Medford Saturday with 5-8 mph winds.

Temperatures could reach 99 with winds of 5-7 mph Sunday, the Fourth of July.

Temperatures will remain in the high 90s Monday and Tuesday, then drop to 92 Wednesday and rise to 96 Thursday, according to the forecast.

For Klamath Falls, the National Weather Service predicts a high of 101 degrees Saturday with 5-9 mph winds.

Sunday could see temperatures reach 98, with 5-10 mph winds.

Hot, sunny weather is expected Monday, with a high near 97 degrees. Temperatures will remain in the 90s at least through Thursday, the National Weather Service predicts.

Unseasonably hot weather in September 2020 and 45 mph winds helped fuel Oregon’s most destructive fire season ever last year.

The hardest hit area was Jackson County, where 2,500 homes were destroyed by the Almeda and South Obenchain fires.

Fires destroyed 4,000 homes statewide.

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