Firefighters are expecting increased fire activity in the South Umpqua Complex after winds shifted to the southwest on Sunday, causing the blazes to grow to nearly 5,000 acres.
As the northwest wind that kept the valley clear during the past week shifted, an inversion caused the valley to fill with smoke and remain in place through late Tuesday.
“The inversion acts as a lid and the fire builds in intensity under the lid. Then, when the lid is removed, the fire ‘boils over,’ so to speak, and firefighters often experience a sudden increase in fire behavior.” Fire Behavior Analyst Katie Hetts said in a press release.
According to the Incident Information System, the winds are expected to shift back northwest and push the smoke out of the valley late Tuesday.
A level 2 evacuation is still in effect for Douglas County residents living near the complex, which is around 45 miles southeast of Roseburg.
The notice was given to residents living between 1642 and 3200 Tison Road, which is a small segment of road south of Drew, Oregon that splits east from Tiller Trail Highway.
Over the weekend, the Miles Fire — which threatens some private residences— grew mostly to the north in the Umpqua National Forest.
The largest fire in the complex, the Snowshoe Fire in Jackson County, expanded mostly to the south. Oregon Department of Forestry crews, working from the south, and federal interagency crews, working from the north, are trying to tie their fire lines together to prevent further spread.
The Columbus/HD fires, also in the Umpqua National Forest, expanded on both the northwest and southeast sides.
Firefighters have reduced the threat from the Railroad Gap Fire to the point that it is now in patrol status, so most of its resources are being distributed to other fires.
Nearly 1,000 personnel have responded to help battle the blaze, which is 10 percent contained.
Resources include five helicopters, 32 engines, 8 dozers and 18 tenders.
In addition to the South Umpqua Complex, the Timber Crater 6 Fire continues to burn near Crater Lake.
An infrared flight mapped the fire at more than 2,000 acres. On Sunday, 522 personnel were fighting the fire.
Crater Lake National Park remains open.