Hot Days, High Winds Keep Oregon Fires Active
Record-setting high temperatures and brisk winds spread some of Southern Oregon's wildfires on Friday, and crews braced for more of the same over the weekend.A red flag warning for high temperatures, high winds and low humidities expired Friday evening, only to be replaced with another for 2 PM to 10 PM Saturday. The National Weather Service in Medford said the "conditions will create the potential for significant fire growth."
Increased fire activity on Friday led to expanded or upgraded evacuation orders for people living near the Garner Complex of fires burning in northern Jackson and Josephine Counties. The Taylor Creek Fire in particular produced half a dozen Level 3 ("Go Now") evacuation on Taylor Creek and Galice Creek Roads. An evacuation shelter is set up at Grants Pass High School.
The fires started from a series of lightning strikes on July 15. State, federal, and local crews are all involved in fighting the Garner Complex Fires, and five other fires or complexes stretching from southern Douglas County to northern Siskiyou County. The Southwest Oregon Joint Information Center reports more than 6,000 firefighters on the job.
The National Weather Service pointed out that Medford, Roseburg, and Mount Shasta all set records for the highest mean temperatures across the period from July 10th to July 26th. Medford might finally get under 100 on Tuesday.
The NWS took the rare step of providing maps showing people sick of the wildfire smoke where to go to escape it. Air quality has oscillated between "moderate" and "unhealthy" across Southern Oregon for weeks, but in a tough cycle: the winds that can blow the smoke away can also fan the fires to produce more smoke.