Five homes burn in 98,000-acre SW Oregon wildfire

Chetco Bar now nation's top firefighting priority

BROOKINGS, Ore. (AP) - Authorities have designated a wildfire burning in southwestern Oregon as the top firefighting priority nationwide. 

Five homes have burned in the 98,000-acre (153-square-mile) blaze near Brookings, a coastal town near the California border.

Greg Heule, a spokesman with the Incident Management Team, says more than 700 people are under mandatory evacuation.

The wildfire began more than a month ago, but grew rapidly in the past week with low humidity and strong winds. There are nearly 800 firefighters on scene and many more crews are streaming in from other states and fires to battle the flames.

No one has been injured in the fire.

It is burning in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in some of the same area affected by a notorious fire in 2002 that scorched 800 square miles.

People living along Highway 101 north of Brookings were warned to evacuate Sunday after the fire made a westward push toward the coast.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved federal money to help reimburse the cost of the firefighting effort.


Tuesday morning update:

Community Meeting: 
There is no community meeting scheduled at this time. 

Curry County Sheriff's Office, in consultation with the Chetco Bar Incident Management Teams, are working to get displaced residents back into their homes as soon as possible. Evacuation orders remain in effect at this time. For current information on boundaries please visit our interactive map. 

The Red Cross is staffing an emergency evacuation shelter at Riley Creek Elementary in Gold Beach 94350 6th St. Gold Beach, OR. (541)-600-6068. There is no shelter in Brookings. 

Current Situation: Yesterday's weather patterns will continue throughout today and tonight with cooler temps, fog and low lying clouds. Slightly higher relative humidity's overnight (60-70%) and lighter winds slowed the fire's growth compared to previous days. We are seeing full humidity recoveries as high in elevation as 1500'. These conditions caused minimal fire perimeter growth overnight. The fire is still approximately 2.5 miles northeast of Brookings. 

Brookings and Harbor area will have some low-lying smoke as a result of the fire. Air quality will improve slightly but "sensitive groups" should limit exposure to the outdoors. For more information about air quality, please visit the Oregon Smoke Blog: 

Actions: Fire crews used favorable weather conditions to their advantage to continue building direct and contingency indirect line on the south and southwestern flank of the fire, in the area between the Chetco River and Carpenterville. Structural protection resources are continuing to assess and work around structures to make them more defensible. 

Donations: The citizens of this great community have shown amazing support and gratitude. Many have been bringing donations of food and other items to our base camp. Unfortunately, our efforts are concentrated on fire suppression, and we are not able to use resources to manage distribution of donations to our crews. Donations can be taken to help those in need, who have been displaced by the fire to Brookings Harbor Food Bank at 539-A-Hemlock St in Brookings. 541-469-5808. 

Fire at a Glance: 
Size: 98,000 acres (approx.) 
Cause: Lightning 
Containment: 0% 
Total personnel: 788 

Social Media Resources: 
Twitter: @RRSNF #ChetcoBarFire 
Facebook: / 
Air Quality Report:

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