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Fire danger level moving to extreme

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Jamie Lusch / Mail TribuneSmoke settles Monday in the Rogue Valley. So far, no major wildfires are burning in Jackson County, but the area is being hit with smoke from regional fires in Klamath and Douglas counties and Northern California.
More restrictions take effect Wednesday in Jackson County

The Oregon Department of Forestry announced it will raise the fire danger level to extreme on Wednesday on ODF-protected land in Jackson and Josephine counties.

The change affects 1.8 million acres of private, county, state and U.S. Bureau of Land Management land within ODF’s Southwest Oregon District.

The industrial fire precaution level will remain at level two, ODF said.

Under the extreme fire danger level, public mowing of dry or dead grass and cutting, grinding and welding metal is prohibited. The public use of other power-driven equipment ― including chain saws, wood splitters and generators ― is also banned.

Other restrictions are already in effect, including bans on debris burning, burn barrels, using exploding targets and tracer ammunition and open fires except in approved fire rings at designated campgrounds. Smoking is prohibited while traveling, except in vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and designated locations.

Motor vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, may only be used on improved roads free of flammable vegetation, except when used for the growing and harvesting of agricultural crops.

People who travel off state highways, city and county roads and driveways must carry a shovel and a gallon of water or a fire extinguisher. ATVs and motorcycles must be equipped with a fire extinguisher.

For more information on ODF fire season restrictions, visit swofire.com or the district’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ODFSouthwest.

So far, no major wildfires are burning in Jackson County, but the area is being hit with smoke from regional fires in Klamath and Douglas counties and Northern California.

The Bootleg fire northeast of Klamath Falls sends a smoke plume into the air. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.

For updates on smoke conditions, visit DEQ’s Air Quality Monitoring Data site at oraqi.deq.state.or.us/home/map.

Monitors are set up in cities around the state, including Medford, Talent, Ashland, Shady Cove and Grants Pass.

The National Weather Service predicts patchy smoke through Wednesday night in the Medford area. Temperatures will peak at 91 degrees Tuesday, then drop into the 80s at least through Sunday, according to the forecast.

The Bootleg fire northeast of Klamath Falls ballooned past 150,812 acres as of Monday. More than 900 firefighters have been dealing with hot temperatures, heavy fuel loads with record-low moisture levels, flames raging across land and through tree crowns, and wind-driven embers spotting ahead of the main fire. The fire was 0% contained Monday, according to a Monday afternoon update from fire agencies.

After three days of explosive growth, a smoke inversion moderated fire activity, limiting recent growth to 5,000 acres, fire agencies said Monday.

The Cutoff fire east of Klamath Falls burned nearly 1,300 acres before being contained.

East of Roseburg, the Jack fire had burned 12,533 acres as of Monday and was 10% contained.

Ground firefighters and aerial resources are battling the Jack fire east of Roseburg. Photo courtesy of InciWeb.

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