Douglas Complex Fire #1 Priority in the Nation

, Written by RaeAnn Christensen, Posted: Tue, July 30 2013 at 7:43 PM, Updated: Tue, July 30 2013 at 9:45 PM

Charles Watkins from Eugene is one of thousands of firefighters  fighting the Douglas Complex Blaze.

The fire now covers more than 21,000 acres in three different areas.

Fire crews battling the blaze are dealing with many hazards such as falling boulders, trees, and old mine shafts which are not allowing access into some ares.

“There's always a lot of tricky situations on the fireline, you never deal with the exact same thing twice,” says Watkins. 

The National Interagency Fire center has made the Northwest a priority.

“We have a preparedness level of 4, it was 3, so it has jumped up as the national situation awareness the Northwest is up on the top, and we are on the top of that list.” 

Which means when crews and equipment become available, the Douglas Complex Fire will get first dibs.

The weather and the area where the fires are burning are actually helping crews.

Watkins says “when the inversion is on top of us which is the atmosphere kinda setting down on top of us, it keeps the fire a little less active, when that lifts is when you definitely have to have a heads up for the fire behavior to become more active and pick up.” 

One of the advantages of fighting fires in areas like this is there are roads already built that firefighters are hoping will be a natural fire break. 

A break that will hopefully help residents like Brandi Wytcherley keep her childhood home.

“We are still on mandatory evacuation. We’re being real watchful, if its anything threatening we will leave, we’re not going to try to play hero” says Wytcherley.  

For now, Wytcherley says the background noise of chainsaws and firetrucks rolling by is a welcome sound.

Wytcherley says “they’ve been working all through the night, i am glad they are here, it’s comforting to hear”  

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About the Author

RaeAnn Christensen

NBC 5 News Reporter and Weather Forecaster RaeAnn Christensen earned a Bachelors degree from Weber State University, majoring in Communications and Broadcast Journalism.

RaeAnn started her career as a Producer for two local stations where she grew up in Utah. Working for the NBC affiliate in Salt Lake City, she won local awards for producing, and also became an Emmy award winning producer.

RaeAnn enjoys traveling, hiking, biking, cooking, country dancing, and spending time with her family and friends.

Catch RaeAnn's weekend weather forecasts for Southern Oregon and Northern California Saturdays and Sundays at 6pm and 11pm. Also online at KOBI5.com/Weather

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