Douglas Complex jumps county line, more homes evacuated

Douglas Complex jumps county line, more homes evacuated

GLENDALE, Ore. -- Officials say the fires burning more than 7,500 acres across Douglas County have spread south across the county lines into Josephine, Oregon Department of Forestry officials said Sunday.

The three branches of the Douglas Complex fires are about 2 percent contained.

Winds caused the southern most branch of the complex, the Dad's Creek fire, to spread south across county lines. Firefighters say the blaze is moving along the treetops at rapid speeds, and have reported flames that stretch 100 feet in length.

The rapid southern movement prompted Josephine County Sheriff's Deputies to evacuate eight homes along Poorman Creek Road.

About six miles north, 45 homes were evacuated along McCullough Creek Road Saturday afternoon. The evacuations took place west of Glendale, Oregon. Another 30 homes to the east between McCullough Creek Rd. and the mill west of Glendale were asked to prepare for a possible evacuation.

Residents that have been evacuated in both situations were asked to contact the Red Cross shelter at Glendale Elementary School, or call them at 888-680-1455.

Late Saturday night Governor John Kitzhaber declared the fires a conflagration, meaning the state fire marshal can mobilize structural firefighters and equipment to help crews already battling the fire with protecting structures. 

Fire agencies across Lane County sent crews to help fight fires near Glendale, Ore. The Lane County Task Force is taking fire engines from Dexter, Coburg and Mohawk Valley Fire, as well as two tender trucks from Lane Fire Authority and McKenzie Fire & Rescue.

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The Douglas Complex is made up of around 54 fires that were started by a lightning storm early Friday morning. That number is expected to shrink as fires start burning together.

The Oregon State Fire Marshall said firefighters will be facing gusty winds and low humidity through Sunday, however temperatures should be nearly 10 degrees cooler. Current weather forecast

The Douglas Complex was divided into three branches – the Milo, on the east side of Interstate 5; Rabbit Mountain/Union Creek, on the west side of Interstate 5 (northwest of Glendale); and Dad’s Creek/Panther Butte, west of Glendale.

Milo

Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires burning less than 20 acres in size.  Each has been lined and firefighters will start mopping up hot areas of each fire.  Minimal fire activity is expected today for this branch.

Rabbit Mountain/Union Creek
Fire officials said this branch has seen significant growth and is expected to burn actively again on Sunday. The two main fires have grown together and have crossed Cow Creek Road on the south end. Firefighters will work towards building fire line on the east and north sides of the fire Sunday.

Dad’s Creek/Panther Butte
This branch burned to the south on Saturday, crossing the District boundary between Douglas Forest Protective Association and Oregon Department of Forestry's Southwest Oregon District. The activity on this branch called for evacuations of homes along McCullough Creek Road.  The fire grew approximately 3,000 acres Saturday afternoon. Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office has invoked the Conflagration Act and structural firefighting resources have been brought in from across Oregon to assist in protecting homes in this area.

ODF assumed command of the Douglas Complex on Saturday morning. 

Later in the day the Douglas Forest Protective Association upgraded the fire danger to "extreme"  as the dry fuels could make for more fires.

“Everyone needs to be careful when working or recreating in wildland areas” says DFPA Fire Prevention Specialist Kyle Reed.  “The current conditions around Douglas County are prime for rapid fire growth.”