Taylor Creek Fire Settles Down As Weather Cools
Southern Oregon's largest active wildfire grew to nearly 30,000 acres Wednesday, but fire crews have kept it from crossing the Rogue River, and from joining another fire.But the Taylor Creek Fire, west of Grants Pass, is still causing dislocation for nearby residents and businesses, forcing evacuations and shutting off most recreation on the Rogue. The river is closed to boating (including rafting) and swimming in one of its busiest sections, from Hog Creek boat landing to the Galice Creek landing.
Fire managers focused on forming a solid fire line in the Galice Creek area. "The fire is slowly backing down the hill," operations chief Barry Shullanbarger told a community meeting in Merlin Wednesday evening. "This is not a ripping fire by any means."
The slow growth means concerns have lessened about the Taylor Creek Fire burning into the Klondike Fire, still three miles away. "There's an awful lot of real estate in between them," said incident commander Chris Schulte at the Merlin meeting.
But the smoke from the combined fires is making the local air dangerous to breathe. Air quality readings in the Williams area reached "Hazardous" levels on Wednesday night, while other towns in the region oscillated between "Moderate" and "Very Unhealthy" through the day.
Incident meteorologist Tom Wright, from the National Weather Service office in Medford, says cooler weather is on the way, and that should help the firefighting effort, with less heat and more humidity. The chance for increased wind speeds could clear out some smoke, but could also increase fire activity.