As the Milepost 97 Fire enters its second week, crews are making substantial progress, Oregon Department of Forestry officials said.
The fire had burned 13,070 acres as of Thursday morning — a 492-acre increase from Wednesday. Containment increased 5 percentage points Wednesday to 30%.
Back-burning to limit the fire’s spread further northwest accounted for most of the acreage increase, said Al De Vos, an ODF spokesman at the incident command center in Tri City.
“Most of the fire has line around it, but in some areas the fire lines don’t connect, so a big part of today will be for firefighters to connect those lines,” De Vos said.
Firefighters will continue felling hazardous trees along Interstate 5 and mopping up hotspots on the fire’s eastern edge. Motorists should expect more rolling slowdowns between Canyonville and Azalea, De Vos said.
Crews had laid down 23 miles of hose in the burn and expect to put down 13 more miles Thursday. There are 17 helicopters and two single-engine air tankers continuing to dump water on active fire areas.
More than 1,500 crew members are working on the fire, which is estimated to have cost $8 million.
A National Weather Service air quality alert remains in effect for much of Southwestern Oregon, including Douglas, Jackson, Josephine and Klamath counties. Air quality is “unhealthy” in Azalea and Glendale, meaning sensitive groups should avoid all physical outdoor activity, according to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
ODF will hold a community meeting with Oregon Health Authority officials at 7 p.m. Thursday at North Valley High School in Merlin to discuss smoke issues.