Douglas County Wildfires Prompt Authorities To Evacuate More Homes

The Register Guard | July 30, 2013 1:56 a.m. | Updated: July 30, 2013 8:56 a.m.

Contributed By:

Ilene Aleshire

Firefighters continued to battle a group of wildfires in Douglas County on Sunday, evacuating more homes.

The Douglas Complex fires were started by lightning strikes Friday morning. There were 400 lightning strikes, and 54 fires were ignited, most of them in the Cow Creek Canyon west of Glendale, according to the state Department of Forestry. In addition, a handful of fires in the Milo area are included in the 10,000-acre Douglas Complex, which includes the Panther Butte Fire, Dads Creek Fire and the Rabbit Fire.

As of midafternoon Sunday, only about 2 percent of this group of fires was contained, the Forestry Department said.

About 45 homes west of Glendale were evacuated late Saturday afternoon, with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office evacuating all homes west of McCullough Creek Road to Reuben.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office asked residents of eight homes along Poorman Creek Road to evacuate because of danger from the Douglas Complex. Residents of another 30 homes in the area were warned that they might be evacuated, according to the Forestry Department.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter at Glendale Elementary School at 100 Pacific Ave. in Glendale.

The Fir Point Bible Conference & Camp, which is on the north side of Glendale, canceled a camp for third- and fourth-graders that was scheduled to start today and run through Friday because of the fire. The camp offered its facilities for the use of firefighters.

The camp, which draws campers from all over Oregon, hasn’t been affected by the fires at this point, Dennis May said. He and his wife, Janice, are hosts and caretakers at the camp.

“The smoke isn’t even where we are,” Dennis May said, “but I just didn’t want to put the kids at risk.”

“We’re about 3.5 miles from the fire itself, and the wind is going in the opposite direction,” May said. But, he said, he attended a meeting in Glendale called by fire officials, and they recommended this week’s camp be canceled.

There would have been almost 130 people at the camp, most of them elementary school children, he said, and there is only one way in and out of the camp, which is nestled among 240 acres of trees.

Not only could the children be at risk, so could firefighters or others who came to assist them if the fire did come in that direction, May said. Even if the camp isn’t threatened by fire, a shift in the wind could send smoke in that direction, which wouldn’t be healthy for the children, he said.

Canceling the weeklong camp will cost Fir Point Bible Camp about $10,000, May said, and it meant disappointing a lot of children. “But I couldn’t live with myself if something happened,” he said.

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