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Thousands in the Line of Fire in SW Oregon
KGW TV/AP ^ | 31 July 2002 | Jeff Barnard

Posted on 07/31/2002 8:14:18 AM PDT by Grampa Dave

Thousands in the Line of Fire in SW Oregon 07/31/2002

By JEFF BARNARD, Associated Press Writer

Officials say there is just one main route out of the fire zone in southern Oregon's Illinois Valley -- U-S 199 South -- along with three back roads. Josephine County sheriff's deputies say signs pointing out evacuation routes will go up today.

The Florence Fire has burned about 145-thousand acres and the Sour Biscuit fire stands at about 35-thousand acres. They two fires remain about three to four miles apart, but together they form a 30-mile long front of fire threatening the communities of O'Brien, Cave Junction, Selma and Kerby.

Smoke from the Florence wildfire burning near Selma, Ore., raises into the sky over Grants Pass. (AP Photo)

Seventeen thousand residents of the area have been put on 30-minute evacuation notice.

Bulldozers have cut a last-ditch line of defense for the Illinois Valley, but officials have told residents it may not hold, and they should be ready to leave if they hear an evacuation notice on the radio.

"I need to be honest with you and say there is a chance the fire will be in the Illinois Valley," said Greg Gilpin of the Oregon Department of Forestry, evacuation coordinator on the fire.

"We are looking at the fire at this time as uncontrollable."

Cliff Loncosky, left, and his wife, Rebecca, pack belongings into a pick-up as they assist his father prepare for a possible evacuation from his home along Highway 199, near Cave Junction. (AP Photo)

About 200 people sat in the stifling heat of the Illinois Valley High School gym to hear the bad news, but many shared Heon's view.

One who didn't was Maggie Connery, whose husband is one of 1,200 firefighters on the Florence Fire. Holding her 2 1/2-year-old son, Connery said she was taking her children to nearby Grants Pass to stay with family.

Maps posted outside the gym showed they are still four miles from running into each other but together form a 30-mile long front of fire threatening the communities of O'Brien, Cave Junction, Selma and Kerby.

Incident commander Mike Lohrey of the U.S. Forest Service said bulldozers have dug fire lines connecting a network of Siskiyou National Forest roads to create a last-line of defense between the eastern front of the fire and the communities along U.S. Highway 199.

Faye Withers, right, comforts Ashley and Isaac Withers as Amanda Withers, sitting, and Isaiah Williams, held by his mother, Sharon, left, listen to fire officers during a town meeting at the high school in Cave Junction. (AP Photo)

Waiting for the right conditions, firefighters were to begin burning out brush and timber in the three-mile-wide space between the bulldozer line and the fire.

The burning operation was expected to take the next three days if all goes well. "We're waiting for those conditions when you feel a light wind on the back of your neck so the flames are sucked into the fire," Lohrey said.

Meanwhile bulldozers began building a similar line on the north end of the fire to protect the community of Agness, a hub of whitewater rafting on the Rogue River.

Some residents expressed frustration that the fires were not stopped two weeks ago after the original lightning strikes. But Gilpin explained that firefighting resources around the nation are stretched to the limit.

A helicopter drops water unto a burning wildfire on the Siskyou Forest north of Selma, Ore., near the California border. (AP Photo)

Meanwhile 110 structural firefighters continued going house to house plotting their locations by Global Positioning System and assessing whether the homes can be defended if the fire hits.

"If we can improve the defense ability with minor modification we will do that," said Tim Birr, spokesman for the Oregon Fire Marshal's Office.

"We will do a little weed-whacking but we will not take down a tree in your yard," he said.

One primary escape route, U.S. Highway 199 south to the coast, remained closed by another fire in California; however, U.S. Highway 199 north to Grants Pass and three different back roads remained open, said Josephine County sheriff's Lt. Lee Harman.

Signs pointing out evacuation routes will go up Wednesday, he said.

Weather forecaster Jim Harrison said there was no rain in sight but northwest winds should continue for the next couple of days which would tend to push the fire toward the bulldozer line.

Three homes have already been lost to the Florence Fire.

Chevron gas station owner Jeff Stiles said quite a few people left the valley Monday, but those who remain seem calm. "This is a survivalist area," he said. "There are a lot of people who want to make a last stand at their own property. The people who stayed are a tough breed."

The crossroads animal hospital sold out of pet carriers and nearly ran out of sedatives for dogs and cats, said Sue Fiske.

The Josephine County Sheriff's Posse has been helping people round up livestock to transport to safer ground, and veterinarians and kennels in Grants Pass 30 miles away, are offering refuge for pets.

"It's amazing how many people can't find their leashes and collars for their pets and are coming in for new ones," said Fiske. "You really know what people are made of when you get hit by something like this. I think a lot of people are really compassionate."

One of the animals evacuated was a 40-year-old horse named Tye, which was ridden by John Wayne in the movie "Rooster Cogburn," said Gary Brummett, owner of the Deer Creek Ranch outside of Selma.

At the local senior center, Floyd Watkins shot pool with Rusty Fox and said quite a few older residents have left the area because of problems breathing the smoke, but most have stayed, hoping for the best.

Wildfires at a Glance

Major wildfires were burning on more than 350,000 acres in Oregon on Tuesday.

About 12,115 firefighters are working in the state. The Northwest Interagency Communication Center is tracking at least 14 major fires in Oregon. Top priorities for fire officials were the Florence fire, the Timbered Rock fire, the Cache Mountain fire and the Sour Biscuit fire.


Started: 7/29/02, 10 p.m. six miles south of Detroit.

Size:60 acres

Containment: 10 percent

Evacuations: None.

Damages: None yet. In heavy timber.

On scene: 120 firefighters.

Cause: Lightning


Started: 7/24/2002, Klamath County, north of Sprague River.

Size: 2,544 acres

Evacuations: Moccasin Hill and Klamath Forest Estates subdivision orders have been lifted as of July 29, 2002.

Damage: one outbuilding destroyed.

Containment: 80 percent containment.

On scene: 441 firefighters.

Cause: Lightning strikes.


Started: 7/24/02, 15 miles northwest of Sisters, Oregon

Size: 3,700 acres.

Containment: 85 percent.

Evacuations: About 1300 homes evacuated. Evacuation order remains in place. Highway 20 reopened.

Damage: Two homes destroyed.

On scene: 459 firefighters.

Cause: Lightning.


Started: 7/24/02, 3 miles southwest of The Dalles.

Size: 12,761 acres

Containment: 80 percent

Evacuations: Voluntary evacuation cancelled.

Damage: Eight outbuildings destroyed, one home damaged.

On scene: 660 total personnel.

Cause: Lightning.


Started: in Lake County 07/12/02 and merged 7/20/02.

Size: 86,794 (Toolbox) 35,525 (Winter)

Containment: 65 percent (Toolbox); 90 percent (Winter)

Evacuations: Voluntary evacuations of 85 homes.

Damage: None reported.

On scene: 2479 (both fires combined)

Cause: Lightning.


Started: 8-25 miles from Prairie City, 07/12/02.

Size: 24,200 acres.

Containment: 30 percent.

Evacuations: No mandatory evacuation, but 52 residences and 13 commercial properties and 196 outbuildings are threatened. A historic home, Austin House, is 4 miles from the fire.

Damage: None.

On scene: 1,752 firefighters

Cause: Lightning


Started: Outside Tiller, east of Canyonville off Interstate 5, 07/12/02.

Size: 18,655 acres.

Containment: 25 percent

Evacuations: South Umpqua Road closed at milepost 6. Fifteen residence threatened. Tribal ceremonial grounds and critical cultural resources are threatened.

Damage: No listed damage.

On scene: 1,359 firefighters

Cause: Lightning.


Started: 25 miles east of Glide, 07/12/02.

Size: 1,749 acres.

Containment: 80 percent.

Evacuations: 20 residences threatened, one business and 10 outbuildings. Historical resources, cultural sites threatened.

Damage: None.

On Scene: 610 firefighters.

Cause: Lightning.


Started: 9 miles southwest of Unity, 07/12/02

Size: 24,435 acres

Containment: 80 percent.

Evacuations: None at this time.


On Scene: 1,233 firefighters, military battalion from Topeka, Kansas in place.

Cause: Lightning.


Started: Northeast of Paulina in Black Canyon Wilderness, 07/13/22.

Size: 17,266 acres

Containment: 80 percent.

Evacuations: No evacuations; Four homes and eight outbuildings threatened.

Damage: Road closures.

On scene: 653 firefighters.

Cause: Lightning.


Started: 26 miles west of Grant Pass, 07/13/02.

Size: 145,000 acres.

Containment: 5 percent.

Evacuations: The entire Illinois Valley on notice to evacuate.

Damage: 3 residences and 8 outbuildings.

On scene: 988 firefighters.

Cause: Lightning.


Started: 17 miles southwest of Cave Junction

Size: 35,000 acres. (source: Florence fire camp)

Containment: zero percent containment

Evacuations: None yet.

Damage: no

On scene:373

Cause: lightning


Started: Unknown. 20 miles north of Medford.

Size: 13,450 acres

Containment: 20 percent

Evacuations: Elk Creek Road is closed except to fire vehicles. Evacuation area for all addresses along Elk Creek Road, 143 homes, is still in effect. No homes were immediately threatened by yesterday's fire activity and no homes have been lost. July 30.

Damage: None

On Scene: 988 firefighters

Cause: lightning

Source: The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center

TOPICS: Breaking News
KEYWORDS: andrewkerr; andykerr; andykerrslegacy; burningoregon; cavejunctionor; christines; clubsierralegacy; ecofascismlegacy; ecofascistburning; ecokamikazes; econaziburning; econutsusefires; ecoterrorism; ecoterrorists; ecoviolence; enviralists; greenagenda; greenfirecleansing; greenlegacy; greenratslegacy; greensburnoregon; greenscanburnyou; greenscankillyou; harmsway; illinoisvalley; ilvalleyburning; kerbyoregon; kitzslegacy; obrienoregon; onrcagenda; onrcslegacy; oregonisburning; orncfirecleansing; realgreenlegacy; ruralcleansing; selmaoregon; stopecoviolence; usfloristservice
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From this report it does not appear that the two fires have merged.

It is really hard to get a fix on this situation.

We would appreciate the feedback from those living in the Grants Pass/Medford or Brookings/Coastal area.

1 posted on 07/31/2002 8:14:18 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: AuntB; wanderin; EBUCK; forester; marsh2; tubebender; blackie; dixiechick2000; bybybill; ...

Would you locals please keep your ears on your radios and let us know if these fires merger or don't.
2 posted on 07/31/2002 8:17:57 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: WaterDragon; farmfriend; madfly; brityank; backhoe; *Enviralists
Here is the latest on the SW Oregon fire. News is really hard to get.

However, the latest news shows no merging of the fire.

Please use your ping lists.
3 posted on 07/31/2002 8:20:38 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: Grampa Dave
I've not heard anything about a merger. I actually watched the broadcast news lastnight and they are all over this (after they get all their commercials done that is) and they only hinted at the possibility.

This is getting so bad! And it's only just started. We just cleared our deductible, 10.2 million, and out complete policy runs around 50 million total. Estimate are that we'll double that bt the time we're through. We're so hosed. I'm thinking of taking a leave from work to go help the fight....


4 posted on 07/31/2002 8:23:14 AM PDT by EBUCK
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To: All
Scary update from Oregon live this morning:

Crews try to cut legs out from under monster blaze


CAVE JUNCTION -- As two Southern Oregon fires marched toward each other Tuesday and a third threatened to join them, firefighting crews and heavy-equipment operators struggled to seal off populated areas from their advance.

Fire officials put all 17,000 residents in the Illinois Valley on a 30-minute evacuation notice Tuesday night, meaning every household should be packed and ready to leave if the wind shifts and sends the fire into to the valley.

"Our intent is to stop this fire, but you need to understand that there is a chance this will not work," Greg Gilpin, incident commander for the Oregon Department of Forestry, told about 500 people at a community meeting in Cave Junction on Tuesday night. "Every citizen in the Illinois Valley needs to think about leaving the valley."

Terry Haines, emergency services director for the Rogue Valley chapter of the American Red Cross, said the potential disaster was more frightening than anything he'd seen.

"When you're talking about losing an entire valley, 17,000 homes, when the southern escape route is closed and there's only one way out of here, when you're looking at a 30-foot wall of fire that no one's been able to stop, you're talking about divine intervention here," Haines said.

Although U.S. 199 has been closed by a fire in Northern California, state officials there have agreed to open it if an evacuation is ordered in Oregon, according to the Josephine County sheriff's office.

Sheriff's deputies drove four routes leading out of the valley Monday and uncovered a potentially serious glitch in the evacuation plan.

Deputies found road crews ready to narrow traffic to one lane on U.S. 199 between Selma and Grants Pass, the main highway leading north. Another crew was putting tar and gravel on the road from Upper Deer Creek to Williamson, which would have slowed traffic to a crawl. Both projects have been put on hold until the fire emergency is over.

Ringed by 5,000-foot mountains and thousands of square miles of timbered national forest and threaded with rivers and creeks, the Illinois Valley is an inland island with only four exits.

"I wanted my own people to confirm that those were open," said Lt. Lee Harmon of the Josephine County sheriff's department, whose job is to oversee the traffic flowing out.

The Florence fire doubled in size to 141,650 acres overnight; Sour Biscuit increased by 9,000 acres to 33,287 acres. To the south, near Gasquet in Northern California, the Shelly Creek fire had spread to several hundred acres.

Gilpin said the Florence fire is headed north and was about six miles from Agness. He said it could reach the tiny historic community on the Rogue River within 24 hours.

Mike Lohrey, who will officially take over command of the fire this morning, said crews are working to seal off communities from potential fire advances with bulldozer cuts and back burns.

"A lot of smoke in the air (will be) the smoke we're going to be making," Lohrey said.

Although crews have established what they think is a secure anchor point northwest of Selma, officials warned that if the fire took off it could begin spot fires two miles ahead of its plume, jumping fire lines and forcing evacuations.

"If it looks like it will threaten particular zones we will evacuate them and not the whole valley," said Jim Wolf, an Oregon Department of Forestry fire prevention planner. Glenn Joki, incident commander on the Florence fire, and others said they had rarely seen the sort of "advanced extreme" fire behavior exhibited during the weekend.

But an inversion layer, fairly mild winds and temperatures in the mid-90s have caused the fire to settle down a bit, at least temporarily, Joki said.

Besides the fire lines and burns being conducted on the fires' eastern flank, Anderson said, California crews were cutting line to the south, the primary direction the fires have moved.

Pat Velasco, fire behavior analyst on the Florence blaze, cautioned crews in a morning written briefing about the flames' unpredictability. "Yesterday was a 'forgiving' day, don't get complacent," he wrote. "The fire monster will soon revive; you will again see Dangerous Aggressive Burning conditions."

Also Tuesday morning, Lt. Brian Anderson's crew at the Josephine County emergency operations center at the courthouse in Grants Pass was staffing the phones on behalf of the Illinois Valley's livestock.

"The phone calls are coming in -- it's almost like a Jerry Lewis telethon down here," Anderson said. "We're getting a lot of phone calls about moving horses and llamas and pigs and chickens. We're trying to marry that information with people offering to help. I think actually we're up over 120 people who've volunteered to take in people and animals."

Gary Brummett, owner of the Deer Creek Ranch, said one of the animals evacuated Tuesday was Tye, a 40-year-old horse ridden by John Wayne in the 1975 movie "Rooster Cogburn," which was made in the Rogue Valley.

On Sunday, the Oregon Department of Forestry and the Josephine County Fire Defense Board mapped out 10 evacuation zones.

Since then, most homes near Selma have been visited twice. First, by deputies or volunteers who went door to door with an evacuation notice. Later, crews of city firefighters, who came from throughout Southern Oregon, went door to door to determine which homes could be defended. At driveway entrances along U.S. 199, firefighters tied yellow, green or red ribbons to signal their evaluation of whether the house could be defended.

Evacuations are voluntary -- not even the county sheriff can order residents to leave their homes.

If an evacuation is called, residents will be notified by door-to-door contact, by trucks equipped with loudspeakers and by local radio stations.

The South Middle School shelter in Grants Pass will hold 250 evacuees, and three more shelters in the city are prepared to open at a moment's notice should a large-scale evacuation be ordered. Each will offer cots, blankets and three meals a day to those forced by fire to leave their homes.

Forty-eight people spent Monday night at the shelter, and 78 others have stopped by to register with shelter officials in case distant family and friends call in to find out if their loved ones are safe. Bryan Denson and Erin Hoover Barnett of The Oregonian contributed to this report.

5 posted on 07/31/2002 8:27:30 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: EBUCK; Archie Bunker on steroids; AuntB; wanderin; forester; marsh2; tubebender; blackie; ...
It sounds like they have plenty of people, and they have a lot of equipment there.

Also, it sounds like now they are being allowed to fight this fire with any tools from cats to back fires at this time.

I have this terrible feeling that the elite Eco Fascists prevented any real heavy duty work until this thing started to spiral out of control a couple of days ago.

If the elite Eco Fascists, their poster boy governor and their pink laced panty wearers in the Floristry Service prevented the real Forestry Fire fighters from fighting this fire, they need to be arrested and jailed for massive eco terrorism.
6 posted on 07/31/2002 8:34:53 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: All
Last nights NOAA Fire/Smoke image map:

7 posted on 07/31/2002 8:39:58 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: All
This is new re the fire threatening Agness which is upriver on the Rogue from Gold Beach.

Is there another fire or did the Florence Fire just rip along the Illinois river canyon where no logging and no fire maintence has been done for about a decade?

Meanwhile bulldozers began building a similar line on the north end of the fire to protect the community of Agness, a hub of whitewater rafting on the Rogue River.

The Eco Fascists need to lose their dangerous positions of power and be treated as potential Pyscho Killers. Just lock them up for being Criminally insane and dangersous to the rest of the Oregon population.

8 posted on 07/31/2002 8:45:10 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: All

9 posted on 07/31/2002 8:50:12 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: Grampa Dave
What is an WFU fire? (lost green complex)


10 posted on 07/31/2002 8:52:23 AM PDT by EBUCK
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I don't know what a WFU is. So far with all of the fires since May, not a single WFU incident has been reported.
11 posted on 07/31/2002 8:55:04 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: Grampa Dave
It's the Florence fire. has a map showing the Florence and Biscuit fires. Rough country there in the Kalmiopsis wilderness.
12 posted on 07/31/2002 8:58:58 AM PDT by Granof8
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To: Grampa Dave; EBUCK
I missed the news here in Eureka so far and I will be taking my grandson (slave for the summer) to Costco soon. I

They had saved the Patricks Creek Lodge as of last nite. Did they save the Lodge at the Oregon Caves?

Is the road you mentioned yesterday the dirt road out of Obrien to Happy Camp?
13 posted on 07/31/2002 8:59:04 AM PDT by tubebender
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To: tubebender
They were still "saving" the caves area last I heard.


14 posted on 07/31/2002 9:00:31 AM PDT by EBUCK
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To: Grampa Dave
Grandpa Dave, How many members of the evil Sierra Club are there fighting the fires they helped get started? No, don't tell me! There are none? How can that be? They are tree huggers, so why are they not helping protect the trees? Have you noticed that the major news media have stopped reporting the fires? How curious!

Grandpa Paulus

15 posted on 07/31/2002 9:00:58 AM PDT by Paulus Invictus
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To: Grampa Dave
Thanks, Grampa Dave, for the update. Oregon is so near and dear to our family's heart. Our youngest grandchild was born in Eugene. We spent so much time in Florence. We're praying.
16 posted on 07/31/2002 9:06:11 AM PDT by FryingPan101
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To: Free the USA; Libertarianize the GOP; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Stand Watch Listen; freefly; expose; ...
17 posted on 07/31/2002 9:11:44 AM PDT by madfly
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To: Granof8
Thanks for this link. This is their map and it was done on the 30th of July.

Looks like the ONRC Eco Fascists with their no logging, no roads and no brush removal agendas have resulted in the burning of a large part of the Kalmiopsis wilderness. May God and the Good people of Oregon dam them for this crime!

Why wasn't this fire named the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Fire instead of the miss leading Florence Fire. It has nothing to do with Florence, Oregon (at least at this time).

The pink panty wearing and ONRC card carrying Florist Workers in the Forestry Service probably didn't want the word out that the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was burning up.

Thanks again, and where do you live?

18 posted on 07/31/2002 9:12:47 AM PDT by Grampa Dave
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To: Grampa Dave
Update on Oregon fires just on FOX.

17,000 ready to evacuate.

Fires have not merged yet.

Bosworth said environmentalists since the 60s have paralyzed forest management.

19 posted on 07/31/2002 9:13:37 AM PDT by madfly
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To: madfly
20 posted on 07/31/2002 9:14:19 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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