SW Oregon wildfire jumps to 6,000 acres

New Level 1 pre-evacuation notices

CANYONVILLE, Ore. - (Update: Fire at 6,000 acres; 650 personnel due; cause apparently illegal campfire; new Level 1 pre-evacuation notices for homes west of I-5)

The Milepost 97 Fire in southwest Oregon was active again on Friday, growing fast to an estimated 6,000 acres, officials said.

Most of the fire growth was to the south and southwest, through a mix of private timberlands, BLM-managed land and property held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Cow Creek Tribe, according to the Douglas Forest Protective Association's Facebook page.

An air and ground attack continued, including seven helicopters, two large air tankers and two single-engine air tankers. More crews and planes have been ordered in.

The blaze broke out late Wednesday night about a mile southeast of Canyonville and was highly visible from Interstate 5 and was estimated at 1,650 acres in size earlier in the day.

"The fire is burning in very steep, rocky terrain with limited access into and around the fire," Friday morning's Facebook update stated.

A preliminary investigation has found the fire's cause was related to an illegal campfire.

More than 650 personnel are expected to be on the fire Saturday, including 25 20-person hand crews.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air quality advisory for much of southwest Oregon because of wildfire smoke from the blaze near Canyonville. The counties under the advisory until Monday include Curry, Josephine, Jackson, and Klamath.

On Friday afternoon, officials said air quality monitors measuring particulate matter along Interstate 5 in Grants Pass, Medford, Talent and Ashland were reading red, which means unhealthy for everyone.

The fire was fueled by hot temperatures, low relative humidity and gusty winds, pushing toward the south and west.

A Level 3 "Go!" evacuation order was given by the Douglas County Sheriff's Office for three homes on Ritchie Road, near the southern end of the fire. 

Around 9 p.m., Friday the Douglas County Sheriff's Office issued Level 1 "Be Ready" evacuation notices for all homes on the west side of Interstate 5 between mileposts 88 and 83, as well as homes off Upper Cow Creek Road, from the freeway east to the base of Galesville Dam.

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