Milepost 97 Fire now 1,650 acres

Preliminary investigation of the fire indicates the cause is related to an illegal campfire.

Posted: Jul 25, 2019 4:31 AM
Updated: Jul 31, 2019 11:16 AM

CANYONVILLE, Ore. -- The Milepost 97 Fire near Canyonville grew to 1,650 acres by Friday morning, the Douglas Forest Protection Association said. That's up from their last update of 750 acres Thursday night. The fire is 0% contained.

Firefighters are continuing to fight the fire, which spread south and west overnight. It's burning one mile southeast of Canyonville near Interstate 5 southbound. The southbound I-5 off-ramp at Exit 95 (Canyon Creek), located three miles south of Canyonville, was closed Thursday due to the fire and was expected to remain closed. For the latest road conditions, click here.

The fire is actively burning in a old fire scar from the 1980s, where there is a significant amount of standing dead trees with heavy brush beneath them. Officials said the terrain is steep and rocky.

The Oregon Department of Forestry’s Incident Management Team 3 has been assigned to assist the DFPA and will be briefed this afternoon. Fire officials said the team will take over command of the fire by Friday evening.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office issued a Level 3 "Go" evacuation order at about 7:20 Thursday night, which applied to Canyonville residents in the 100 to 300 blocks of Ritchie Road. Local fire departments are providing structural resources and fire protection to the three homes affected.

A Level 2 "Be Set" notice was issued at about 7 p.m., escalating from the Level 1 "Be Ready" notice that was issued at about 3:30 p.m.

"There's been investigators on scene of the fire last night and the preliminary investigation indicates the fire was most likely caused by an illegal campfire," said Kyle Reed with DFPA.

Crews from the Douglas Forest Protective Association and Canyonville -- South Umpqua Fire Department responded to the fire at 10 p.m. on Wednesday. They had containment lines around the bottom half of the fire and continued to work on the fire, which at the time was said to be 25% contained.

Douglas Forest Protective Association officials said fire activity picked up Thursday as temperatures grew hotter. They had five helicopters working on the fire that day. At the time, fire officials said the fire was burning uphill and not toward Canyonville.

Falling trees, rolling rocks and strong winds are presenting challenges to firefighters in their efforts to contain the blaze, and one firefighter was transported to the hospital for a heat-related illness.

The Douglas Forest Protective Association said additional resources were then requested from the Tri-City Rural Fire Department, Riddle Rural Fire Department, Myrtle Creek Rural Fire Department and contract hand crews. 

Anyone traveling through the area is asked to drive with caution, as fire equipment and personnel will be working alongside the freeway.

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