Wildfires burning throughout southern Oregon poured smoke into central Douglas County on Saturday afternoon, creating a haze so thick it almost felt like breathing soot.

A new 350-acre fire was burning outside of Olalla on Saturday and zero percent contained.

Kyle Reed, a spokesman with the Douglas Forest Protective Association, said the Horse Prairie Fire is not threatening any homes in the area. It’s burning on private industrial forest land and BLM forest lands in a mixture of slash, reprod trees and second-growth stands. The cause of the fire is unknown.

DFPA, Coos Forest Protective Association, the Oregon Department of Forestry and private industrial landowners and operators were providing equipment and fighting the fire. The cause is under investigation. Three helicopters were working on the fire as well.

An incident management team from the Oregon Department of Forestry is being brought in to manage the fire.

Brad Schaaf, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Medford, said smoke from that fire was contributing to the haze in central Douglas County. Some of the smoke coming into the valley was from the Falcon Fire Complex in the Tiller Ranger District, some from the Umpqua North Complex east of Glide and some traveled all the way from the Miller Complex in Jackson County on winds moving north, Schaaf said.

The biggest fire in the state right now is the Chetco Complex near Brookings at 105,518 acres.

The National Weather Service predicts a hot, smoky Sunday, with patchy smoke throughout the day and a high near 100 degrees.

The Umpqua North Fire Complex was at 14,817 acres as of Saturday morning, and 7 percent contained. It’s being battled by 1,039 firefighters with three helicopters, 72 engines, 13 dozers and 18 water tenders. The two biggest fires are Happy Dog, at 8,068 acres, and Fall Creek at 3,184 acres. The next biggest, the Ragged Ridge, is at 1,738 acres.

In preparation for expected high temperatures over the weekend, firefighters went on the offensive Friday. Tactical firing operations were used to deepen containment lines on the Fall Creek and Ragged Ridge fires Friday. Firefighters hope the technique will help them protect a power line corridor along Forest Road 28, as well as homes at Soda Springs and Slide Creek. They’re also trying to keep the Fish Creek Power Plant and the Toketee Ranger Station.

About 200 firefighters were moved to the east side of the complex Friday.

The Falcon Complex is at 3,400 acres and 35 percent contained.

New closures were announced in the Umpqua National Forest Saturday. The entire Boulder Creek Wilderness is now closed to entry. The Sandshed and Millsite area along Highway 138 near milepost 72 is closed to campers because it’s serving as a firefighters’ camp. The North Umpqua River is closed from Soda Springs Dam to the falls at Steamboat Inn and from Jeanne Fishing hole at Steamboat Inn to Susan Creek Campground. No motor vehicles have access to the Umpqua Hot Springs, but visitors can still walk there.

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at 541-957-4213 or by email at ccegavske@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(4) comments


The DEQ has an air quality index at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/ which reads by the hour. Right now it's at 161ppm, very unhealthy. Yes it's very disappointing that no local health advisory news release has been published on the air quality. After the huge fires 2 years ago you think the firefighting agencies would have been better prepared to respond quickly to reported forest fires. The air quality will be horrible until we get the big rain, then for awhile after that. Wonder why they didn't send some crews up when the fire (example, Fall Creek) was first discovered at 20 acres and jumped on it when it was small. Obviously it was closest to civilization. Seems like they have to observe it for a week first, then get one cat up there when it's 1400 acres. Now it's out of control. Too bad the loggers weren't in charge from the beginning, they would've been right on it and got it contained, kinda like so many cooperating in lining the fire in Olalla 3/4 of the way by this morning at 450 estimated acres. A huge thanks to all who are fighting fires everywhere, we appreciate you, stay safe.


Thanks for this informative comment, DR77. Glad to see that someone else has noticed some of my concerns. Someone said the governor had issued a state of emergency due to fire, but I wonder what actions backed this up. You seem to be more knowledgeable than I regarding this, so I will ask, what about cloud seeding to try to cause some rain?


The smoke in Roseburg is affecting a lot of people, yet I see very little on the media about it. Yours is the first article I have read. The weather on one station just said 'overcast'. Smoke is not the same as being overcast. I am suprised and angry that the local health department and authorities are not doing more, and giving updates, so on. As well, this has been going on a long time now with the fires, pretty much most of the month. Why aren't more helicopters and personnel being deployed? Back east, and in CA, both places I have lived, there would have been a lot of involvement by Health authorities and many more would have been deployed to stop this. I don't understand why they don't do something like deploying the guard, so on. I feel badly for those like myself suffering because of the bad air; for all the wildlife that is suffering and dying, and for the lost forests.


How many were by humans

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