The Klondike Fire burning in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest west of Selma is getting too close for the comfort of firefighters and law enforcement.
On Thursday afternoon, the Josephine County Sheriff's Office issued a Level 1 ("Be Ready") evacuation warning to homes on the west side of U.S. Highway 199, the main road through the Illinois Valley.
Activity on the fire picked up with the winds, driving the fire east toward the highway. Fire maps showed the fire still at least four miles from the road Thursday evening, but fire managers said the fire could advance a mile in the next 24 hours if the conditions are right.
The weather turned cooler Thursday, but increased winds that scoured out smoke in the Medford-Ashland area dumped more smoke in the Illinois Valley, driving Cave Junction's air quality index into the Very Unhealthy range by mid-afternoon. By nightfall, the reading was back in the Moderate range, much more breathable.
There is much work ahead for fire crews: the totals for Thursday evening stood at 21,352 acres burned or burning, with only 5% containment.