End of triple-digit heat helps firefighters in southwest Oregon, smoke chokes Rogue Valley



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CANYONVILLE, Oregon — Cooler and cloudier weather helped firefighters make progress Monday on two wildfires in the foothills of the Cascades of southwestern Oregon. Smoke continued to choke communities to the south in the Rogue Valley.

The Stouts fire was 5 percent contained after burning through 24 square miles of private and federal timber 16 miles east of Canyonville, the Oregon Department of Forestry said. It started nearly a week ago and the cause remains under investigation. No homes have burned, but more than 300 remained threatened. Residents have been warned to be ready to evacuate.

Cooler temperatures and higher humidity Sunday slowed the growth of the fire, giving firefighters a chance to build more lines, but temperatures are forecast to return to the 80s Tuesday and into the week.

Plans called for wildland firefighters to focus on building fire lines on the eastern flank of the fire, where it was moving through the Umpqua National Forest after burning through the mix of private and U.S. Bureau of Land Management timber known as the O&C lands. There are 1,224 people fighting the fire, with four helicopters and 28 engines.

Structural fire crews have come from Clackamas, Lane, Linn, Benton, Lincoln, Marion and Yamhill counties to protect homes. Crews are clearing brush and trees around threatened homes to make them easier to defend against the fire.

National Weather Service meteorologist Charles Smith said north winds are blowing smoke from the fire into the Rogue Valley.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports smoke levels are unhealthy in Medford and Grants Pass, and hazardous in Shady Cove.

Meanwhile the nearby Cable Crossing fire is 20 percent contained after burning through 2 ½ square miles of timber and grass 6 miles east of Glide, also in Douglas County. Firefighters have built trail all the way around it. The cause remains under investigation. There are 1,250 firefighters assigned to the wildfire, along with three single-engine air tankers and 15 helicopters. The cost to date is $2.5 million.

"Crew bosses are hopeful they took the fight out of the fire," Incident Commander Link Smith said in a statement.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports smoke levels are unhealthy in Medford and Grants Pass, and hazardous in Shady Cove.

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