Oregon Battles Mounting Wildfires

From Associated Press

Dense smoke hung over the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon on Saturday, keeping helicopters and air tankers from joining the fight against a 2,000-acre wildfire burning out of control on a remote timbered ridge.

Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies were going door to door in Paisley, 100 miles east of Klamath Falls, where a 2,200-acre fire was moving about five miles from several homes. Residents were told to keep alert to fire reports but were not asked to leave their homes, said Don Ferguson of the Lakeview Interagency Coordination Center.

Gusty winds and heavy smoke closed U.S. 395 east of the town.

“We thought we had a really good handle on it, and this is what happens when the winds and weather change on you,” said David Widmark, a spokesman for the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center.


Meanwhile, the Quartz fire, burning in the Yale Creek area about 15 miles south of Medford, jumped from 300 acres early Friday to at least 2,000 Saturday but did not immediately threaten any of the scattered homes in the area.

Attacking the flames overnight wasn’t possible, and the fire was burning so hot that two firefighters were treated Friday for heat exhaustion, said Ellen Weston of the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center in Portland.

After the fire quieted down during the cool of night, the initial towering plume of smoke dissipated and hung over the valley Saturday.