Lightning struck in the Applegate Valley at approximately 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, sparking the first lightning-caused fires of the 2019 Fire Season. With the potential for thunderstorms in the forecast throughout this week, firefighters are prepared to respond to additional starts related to lightning strikes. At the same time, the Fire Danger Level has increased to Extreme (Red), and ODF is requesting heightened public awareness, as crews remain engaged on three fires on the District.
This morning, firefighters are continuing to mop up the Little Applegate Fire, located just north of the 6500 block of Little Applegate road, southwest of Talent. It was first reported to dispatch Sunday evening, in the same area lightning had recently struck. ODF Detection Specialists, along with air attack en route to the report were able to confirm a sighting of smoke in the area. A second fire south of Little Applegate road, the Yale West Fire, was also spotted by air resources and crews arriving on scene. Both were initially reported to be half an acre.
Additional resources were called in, including engines, crews and aircraft from the East Evans Fire. Within the first two hours, more than 160 personnel were assigned to these fires, designated the Little Applegate Complex. Resources included 15 engines, seven crews, two water tenders, one bulldozer, multiple helicopters and the District’s large airtanker (LAT). Crews, along with our partner agencies, Applegate Valley Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management, were able to contain the Yale West Fire just under an acre, and the Little Applegate Fire at 13 acres.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) and the Rogue Valley Fire Chief’s Association made one LEVEL 3 (GO) evacuation, and placed three other residences in the area under a LEVEL 1 (BE READY). All residents were notified personally by officials. Additionally, Little Applegate road was closed at the intersection of Buncom road. Aside from residents, the public is requested to keep clear of the area.
Crews will remain on scene today, continuing mop-up operations and monitoring any potential flare-up’s. Resources will also be available to divert to any new potential fire starts.
As of Monday, August 5, 2019, lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine Counties are in Extreme Fire Danger (Red) and new restrictions are in place. More information on current fire regulations can be found on the District’s Facebook page: @ODFsouthwest.