Firefighters Respond to Approximately 50 Fires Overnight Following Wednesday Thunderstorms
JACKSON & JOSEPHINE COUNTIES, Ore. (August 18, 2022) – Firefighters are continuing to aggressively engage on numerous fires across the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District following thunderstorms across Jackson and Josephine counties Wednesday night. In a 13-hour period, we have responded to approximately 50 reports of fire across both counties. We’re actively engaged on five fires on the Medford Unit that make up the Westside Complex, and 34 fires on the Grants Pass unit that make up the Lightning Gulch Complex. The largest fire is currently the Tallowbox Fire, located on Tallowbox Mountain south of Applegate; two fires merged to create this incident, currently estimated to be 30 acres in size. In Josephine County, the Granite Hill is located north of Grants Pass and east of Colonial Valley, is estimated to be five acres. Firefighters are on scene and actively engaged on this incident. The majority of fires remain small and are in mop-up phases.
Today, all 150+ district firefighters, dispatchers and detection specialists are on duty, and additional contract resources have been brought on as well, including ten 20-person crews, ten engines, two water tenders and four sets of tree fallers. We’ve also ordered an additional three Type 1 and three Type 2 helicopters to bolster our air resources. Aircraft will be utilized where needed, and the first reconnaissance flight of the day will begin at 8 a.m. to monitor current incidents, provide information from the air and scout out any new reports of fire.
ODF leadership is dividing these incidents by area to ensure experienced personnel are engaged on the line with firefighters today. Four supervisors will each take a quarter of the two-county area, with an additional supervisor available to handle initial attack on new fire starts within the district.
We’re currently working to create a list of fire names, locations, sizes and personnel, however there is a lot of information to sort through to ensure accurate information. Weather conditions will support increased fire activity, including a red flag warning and threat of thunderstorms that are expected to remain in effect throughout the day. There will likely be additional holdover fires and new starts that ignite today; if you see new smoke in your area, please report it by calling 911.
At this time, no homes are threatened, and no evacuation orders are in place. Please be aware of any potential changes and follow Jackson County Emergency Management, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office for any evacuation information.
Firefighters are dedicated to protecting our counties and aggressively attacking fires. We appreciate the support of our partner agencies and communities as we continue to engage on these incidents.
Fire information is available on ODFSW website, www.swofire.com or Facebook page @ODF Southwest Oregon District.