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Weather break helps crews on two SW Oregon wildfires


Cloud cover with cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity moderated fire behavior on the Stouts Fire east of Canyonville on Sunday, allowing firefighters to make good progress on the fire lines.

The fire is currently estimated at 15,200 acres with 3 percent containment, officials said in Sunday evening’s update.

The Upper Cow Creek Road Level 3 evacuation notice was reduced to a Level 2, allowing residents to return home. Three residences along the Tiller Trail Highway in Jackson County, were issued a Level 1 evacuation notice.

The Umpqua National Forest issued an emergency area closure for public health and safety on National Forest lands west of Forest Service Road 1610, Devils Knob. A full description and a map of the closure area can be found on the Stouts Fire InciWeb page.

Due to fire growth toward the east and southeast, Oregon State Fire Marshal resources were focused toward structures in the Dixon Creek and Drew Valley areas. Firefighters were deployed to assess structure protection needs and assist land owners with fuel modification.

Both direct and indirect fire line construction efforts continued on other flanks of the fire. Bulldozers opened old roads for contingency lines and constructed line while hand crews dug and improved lines. Hose lays were installed to provide for mopping up and holding established lines.

Sunday’s more moderate weather conditions and heavy smoke inversion delayed some burnout operations along control lines as the inversion remained over the fire area the entire day, grounding aerial resources.

A public meeting was held at the Milo Volunteer Fire Department Sunday night , allowing the community a chance to hear an update of the containment efforts and ask questions on the Stouts Fire.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal Green Team, Oregon Department of Forestry Team 1, Roseburg Resources and other landowners, and structural fire resources from Clackamas, Lane, Linn/Benton, Lincoln, Marion and Yamhill counties are working with dozens of private contract crews on the Stouts Fire. Approximately 1,265 people are currently assigned to the fire.

Evacuations Levels 1 and 2 remain in effect for 264 homes. Evacuation Level 1 (Ready) is in place for the Milo Academy area and three residence along the Tiller Trail Highway in Jackson County. Level 2 (Set) evacuations are in place along the Upper Cow Creek Road on the south side of the fire; Ferguson, Stouts Creek, and Conley lanes on the north side; and the Drew Valley along the Tiller Trail Highway from milepost 28 to 39 on the east side. No Level 3 (Go) evacuations are in place at this time.

The Red Cross evacuation shelter remains at the Canyonville YMCA.

Meanwhile, after days of playing defense on the Cable Crossing Fire east of Glide, on Sunday firefighters took advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity to go on the offensive.

In this case, playing offense meant building and strengthening containment lines, getting water to the fire, and conducting burnout operations on small patches.

Local landowner cooperator/representative Jake Gibbs of Lone Rock Timber remarked, “ODF always has good plans and today they actually had the chance to implement those plans and took it.”

If the theme of the day shift was seize the day, the theme of the night shift was be flexible. The lower temperatures and higher humidities may stymie burnout plans, but these conditions are ideal for conducting mop up operations and getting more water to the fire.

The focus remains the south portion of the fire that has been pushed by a predominately north wind since it started Tuesday afternoon.

Sunday’s cloudy, cooler weather will give way to higher temperatures Monday. With forecast temperatures in the 90s and variable winds, officials expect an uptick in fire activity Monday.

As of Sunday night, the fire was 1,613 acres and 20 percent contained by a growing firefighting army of 1,250 people – almost the same number battling the much larger Stouts Fire to the south.

A Level 1 Evacuation Notification remains in effect along Little River Road from the Peel Store to the Wolf Creek Trail Head. A Level 1 also remains in effect for homes along Highway 138 in the vicinity of Evergreen Lane to Honeycut Road.

The fire area and forest roads remain closed to the public. Highway 138 remains open with the aid of a pilot car.

Residents of Upper Cow Creek Road who were on a Level 3 evacuation order were allowed to return home Sunday. But they were told by Douglas County sheriff’s deputies they are still under a Level 2 notice, meaning there’s still significant danger and residents need to be ready to leave again at a moment’s notice.

Farther east, on the Umpqua National Forest, a new group of eight fires and reported smokes were started by dry lightning Saturday evening. The Potter Mountain Complex broke out about five miles north of Tokatee Lake and had burned about 25 acres, officials said. An incident command post was established at the south end of Diamond Lake, near Broken Arrow Campground.

Larger Oregon fires are being tracked on InciWeb at

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