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Weather could weaken progress in containing Oregon wildfires

Aug. 5, 2013 at 4:28 PM   |   Comments

PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A combination of storm-fueled lightning and tinder-dry forests could add to Oregon's wildfire woes even as crews make progress containing them, officials say.

Five major fires have spread over nearly 53,000 acres in two counties, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Monday.

Firefighters have made sufficient progress, thanks in part to favorable weather, but predictions of stormy weather Tuesday could slow the already daunting work.

"It could be wet but there's still a chance of wildfire ignition because fuels have been so dry," said Emily Veale of the fire information center in Grants Pass.

The 34,500-acre Douglas complex near Glendale, the largest of the fires, was 16 percent contained Monday. But two separate blazes that account for the bulk of the destruction were only 10 percent and 12 percent contained.

Residents in three communities were evacuated during the weekend, although residents in several areas in Douglas County have been allowed to return.

The second-largest wildfire, the 7,500-acre Big Windy complex, was zero percent contained. More than 1,000 firefighters were combating the blaze 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass. They were working in rough terrain, with firefighters rafting themselves and their equipment into the area.

The Brimstone fire, which has consumed 2,300 acres northwest of Merlin, was 80 percent contained.

Near Tiller, the 6,200-acre Whiskey complex fire was 25 percent contained. The fire grew by 728 acres during the weekend, prompting evacuation orders for the Ash Valley and recreation areas near South Umpqua Falls.

The 245-acre Green Ridge Fire, sparked by lightning during the weekend, was about 25 percent contained.

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