Governor: State of Emergency in Douglas, Josephine counties

Governor: State of Emergency in Douglas, Josephine counties
A fire-bomber and guide plane make a pass near Rattlesnake Creek in Glendale, Ore. on Sunday, July 28, 2013. Lightning late last week touched off dozens of fires in southwest Oregon near Glendale. Most of the small ones were contained, and some merged into larger fires that make up the Douglas Complex. (AP Photo/The Mail Tribune, Andy Atkinson)

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- Governor John Kitzhaber has declared a State of Emergency for Douglas County, as well as Josephine County to the south.

The order came on Tuesday, as crews are battling several fires in the region.

The Josephine County Sheriff issued a road closure order Monday afternoon due to fire activity in the area.  Lower Wolf Creek Road is closed from the town of Wolf Creek to the Water Tank drainage and Grave Creek Bridge to the Water Tank drainage. The Sheriff also issued an evacuation order for all residences on Lower Grave Creek Road from the Grave Creek Bridge to Lower Grave Creek Road and Lower Grave Creek Road at the intersection of Lower Wolf Creek Road to the Water Tank drainage on Lower Wolf Creek Road.

A Conflagration was invoked for Josephine County, allowing State Fire Marshall office to provide structure protection in the county.

The Farmer's Fire, a fire that has been burning for several days in the Grants Pass Unit (Oregon Department of Forestry) will become part of the Complex. This fire is approximately 200-400 acres.

The Douglas Complex

Fire continues to burn actively on the east side of Interstate 5. Firefighters are contending with hazards like falling boulders and trees and old mine shafts, which are affecting access into some of the fire area. Officials say homes, commercial timberland and critical wildlife habitat are at risk. 

There are no reports of homes burned and one minor injury has been reported.

Milo

The Milo Branch is a group of smaller fires, all less than 20 acres in size.  Firefighters are starting patrol of these fires, and officials say minimal fire activity is expected Tuesday for this branch.

Rabbit Mountain

Firefighters are making progress on line construction on the north end of the fire, near Middle Creek.

Rugged terrain on the west side of the fire is a concern, and the south end of the fire continues to burn actively.

Dad's Creek

The south end of the fire continues to burn actively near Poorman Creek. However, authorities say growth has slowed. A line has been established from Cow Creek to the north part of the fire. Line constructed by dozers has been established behind the homes for protection.

Overnight, crews were able to take advantage of the cooler temperatures and higher humidity to conduct a small burnout operation on the east side of the fire, establishing a containment line to protect the City of Glendale.

Burn out operations will continue when weather is conducive. Citizens may see smoke coming from that activity. State Fire Marshal Office will provide protection in the Grave Creek area as well as continue protection in other evacuated areas of the fire. The fire is expected to burn actively again in the afternoon when temperature increases and winds start to affect fire movement. Smoke and erratic winds may impact air operations. Areas around Glendale will see more smoke in the area, mostly during the morning hours.

Evacuations and Closures:

* Cow Creek Road from Riddle into the fire area and from Glendale into the fire has been closed.  The public is asked to honor the road blocks and not interfere with firefighters working in the area.
* Evacuations have been ordered for McCullough Creek Road, Reuben Road, and Mt. Reuben Road in Douglas County, and Poorman Creek Road in Josephine County.
* An additional four hundred residences are considered threatened.  This means evacuations could be necessary at some point in the future.  Any official evacuation orders would be issued by the Douglas County or Josephine Sheriff's Offices.

Air quality

Due to winds transitioning from the northwest and inversions setting in at night, thick smoke from the Dad's Creek fire is settling into Glendale during the morning hours.  To address any concern as a result of smoke in the area, an air quality sensor has been installed in Glendale. Go to this website to track air quality measurements.

Douglas Forest Protective Association has increased prevention restrictions to IFPL 3, where a 1 p.m. shutdown is in effect.  Public restrictions are also in place. Check DFPA's website before you conduct outdoor activities.