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Milepost 97 Fire grows to 'just under 9,000 acres'

The Oregon Department of Forestry said Saturday morning that the Milepost 97 Fire has grown to 'just under 9,000' acres.

Posted: Jul 27, 2019 8:08 AM
Updated: Jul 31, 2019 11:14 AM

CANYONVILLE, Ore. -- The Oregon Department of Forestry said Saturday morning that the Milepost 97 Fire has grown to 'just under 9,000' acres. 

That's an increase from the 6,000 acres the Douglas Forest Protection Association reported Friday afternoon. There was no word on containment levels.

They said there has been no change to evacuation status. All residences on the west side of the freeway between Interstate 5 mileposts 88-8 were issued Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notices on Friday night. Included in the notice are residences on:

• Barton Road
• Azalea-Glen Road
• Old Booth Lane
• Harrel Lane
• Hobbs Lane
• Fortune Branch Road on the Azalea-Glen side
• Forrest Road
• Realty Road
• Quines Creek Road
• Mobley Drive

Residences off of Upper Cow Creek Road starting at Interstate 5 milepost 88, east to the base of Galesville Dam, are also included.

Level 1 "Be Ready" means to be ready for the potential to evacuate, have a "go kit" ready, have an evacuation plan for your family and pets and be fire-wise and create a defensible space around your home.

RELATED: SHERIFF'S OFFICE ISSUES LEVEL 1 'BE READY' EVACUATION DUE TO MILEPOST 97 FIRE

DFPA officials said the fire, which is burning one mile southeast of Canyonville near Interstate 5 southbound, could take weeks to contain and control. Canyonville is not immediately threatened by the fire, as it is moving south and southwest away from the city.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Transportation said Interstate 5 Southbound is limited to a single lane from milepost 97-95, about two miles south of Canyonville, allowing fire crews to clear debris from the side of the road.

MORE: LANE CLOSURE IN PLACE ON I-5 SOUTHBOUND NEAR CANYONVILLE

The fire is burning through private industrial timberlands, O&C Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and lands held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Cow Creek Tribe.

According to the Oregon Department of Forestry, 650 firefighters will be on the ground Saturday, and crews will continue to attack the fire from the air.

Friday, there were seven helicopters, two large air tankers and two single-engine air tankers supporting firefighters on the ground. Additional resources are on their way, DFPA officials said.

MORE: MILEPOST 97 FIRE AT 1,650 ACRES

The Oregon Department of Forestry's Incident Management Team 3 arrived in Roseburg on Friday afternoon and took command of the fire response.

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. Drivers in the area should use caution.

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.

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.

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.

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