BROOKINGS, Ore. — Cooler temperatures and coastal moisture allowed fire crews to make progress Wednesday fighting a large blaze in southwest Oregon and keep another conflagration in the central part of the state in check, authorities said.
No new evacuations were ordered for the 156-square-mile blaze (404 square kilometers) in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near Brookings, just north of the California border, said Zach Ellinger, a fire spokesman. The blaze is burning the scars of a notorious fire from 2002 that scorched 800 square miles (2,071 square kilometers).
After smoldering for more than a month, the lightning-caused blaze was listed as the top firefighting priority in the nation Tuesday after rapid growth last week. On Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown announced a mobilization of an additional 125 Oregon National Guard resources to support others working on the fire starting Thursday. The fire has destroyed five homes, officials said Tuesday.
“Our local and state responders, as well as nearby community members, are facing a very challenging fire in the Brookings area,” Brown said. “These additional resources are needed to prevent further harm.”
Ellinger said Tuesday that the weather Tuesday was cooperating.
“We have cool marine moisture coming in off the Pacific Ocean. And that’s keeping fire activity down and allowing our fire crews to go in and put down those containment lines that they’ve been wanting so badly to do” he said.
In central Oregon, fire crews reported no significant growth overnight on a blaze about six miles west of the tourist town of Sisters. About 600 people who had been under mandatory evacuation orders were allowed to return to their homes, but they could be asked to leave again if conditions change, said Ronda Scholting, a fire spokeswoman.
Crews were able to light a backfire overnight to help contain the fire’s spread. By Wednesday morning it was cool, with a very light rain falling for a brief period, she said. There was concern that afternoon winds could push the flames to the east, where Sisters is located, she added.
That blaze is now 19 square miles (49 square kilometers) in size and is 23 percent contained.
August is typically the worst month for wildfires in Oregon. Resources are mobilized around the state to help contain them.