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Golden and Flat Fire growth slows, but risk remains

 On the right, foreground, a red fire engine with the words "Polk County No. 1 Fire District." On the left, two wildland firefighters watch a helicopter in the background drop some water into the forest.
Golden Fire Facebook Page
Firefighters from the Polk County Fire District watch a helicopter drop water on the Golden Fire.

Containment of two major wildfires in Southern Oregon continues to improve.

The 2,137-acre Golden Fire near Bonanza in Southern Oregon has been fully lined by firefighters. But hot, windy weather forecast in the coming days are keeping fire crews on high alert.

Mark Kauffman from the Oregon Department of Forestry said they’re working on snuffing out hot spots in the fire before fire crews are needed somewhere else.

“We really wanna be able to have some security as we take this fire off the board, that it’s not gonna cause problems for local units and require more resources in the future," he said.

As of Thursday morning, the fire has destroyed at least 46 primary structures, like homes. Some residents have been allowed to return to their homes to assess the damage. An additional 69 outbuildings have also been destroyed.

Kauffman said in the Klamath Falls area, they’re expecting high winds, high temperatures and low humidity over the next few days, which could increase the risk of wildfire.

He said it’s still early in the fire season, and containing a fire like this one will allow them to free up resources to fight other fires that start in the coming months.

Further west near Gold Beach, the 23,678-acre Flat Fire continues to grow, but slower than it has previously. Crews have had success building fire lines to keep it from growing, and over 1,500 crew members are working on the fire right now.

Fire crews are working on multiple fronts, focusing on the southwestern part of the fire where it's growing the fastest. Temperatures in the area are expected to remain fairly mild, especially at higher elevations.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.