UPDATE: The South Umpqua Complex Fire has grown to almost 12,000 acres.
The lightning-caused fires are 16 percent contained.
Crews fighting the blaze say it slowed down over the weekend, but the level two evacuation notice in the area remains in effect.
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. -- The South Umpqua Complex Fire has grown to over 6,000 acres after being started by lightning July 15.
Of the six or seven fires in the South Umpqua Complex, the Snowshoe Fire, now at nearly 3,000 acres, has become the number one priority for crews.
It became top priority when a level-two evacuation notice was issued by the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, affecting 49 homes.
When that happened, fire crews aggressively attacked the Southern boundary of the Snowshoe Fire.
Joe Anderson with the Incident Management Team said part of that attack is moving 200 of the over 1,000 firefighters in the South Umpqua Complex to Joseph Stewart State Recreation Area.
“We know that travel on the roads is always dangerous. Traveling in the air is always dangerous,” Anderson said. “So, the closer we can get them to where we can get the most work done and protect those homes, that’s where we want to be.”
They’re only able to move those fire crews because the teams have been able to contain the smaller fires in the area.
Right now, the South Umpqua Complex Fire is at 12 percent containment, but acreage is continuing to grow.
“These are kind of contained, are being worked on, and are being monitored,” Anderson said. “So we’re able to take some people off those and put them on the Snowshoe Fire and the Miles Fire. So as those get contained, even though the other fires might be growing a little bit, our containment level goes up. But, of course, our acreage goes up.”
The area of the Miles Fire that was threatening homes is now being mopped up, and structure protection is being put in place.
Smoke in the area did impact the use of their helicopters on Monday, but officials are hopeful that winds will carry the smoke away, allowing them to continue to fight these fires from above.
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