JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — The Taylor Creek Fire has moved from the command of a state-run agency, the Oregon Department of Forestry, to a unified command of two agencies: the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State Fire Marshal.
The Taylor Creek Fire is now under the command of a federal incident type 1 team, and there are only 16 type 1 teams in the country. That’s because the fire’s been labelled a type 1 incident which means there is an unacceptable, catastrophic risk to homes and businesses.
“Over a thousand structures impacted by a level three evacuation, record hot and dry temperatures, extremely steep terrain, fuels that are off the charts dry,” said Kale Casey, U.S. Forest Service.
The Taylor Creek Fire burning West of Grants Pass is a big priority.
“It’s moving into wilderness. It’s moving into these big, heavy drainages…very, very hard to put people in their safely,” Casey said. “Very hard to attack it…”
In fact, it’s currently the nation’s number one priority.
“We really want to make sure that the Taylor Creek Fire gets complete attention, and that we see it through right to the end,” Casey said.
The fire was handed off from the Oregon Department of Forestry to a unified command between the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon State Fire Marshal on Monday morning, which means it’s no longer one management team focusing on multiple fires at once.
With the Taylor Creek Fire off their plate, containment on the remaining fires in the Garner Complex is dramatically increasing.
“The fires in the Garner Complex are in mop up or patrol mode at this point. The big risk in those fires have been very much reduced,” he said.
Kale Casey says while leadership is different, not much will change.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s ODF, federal or state, we all share the same mission.”
They’ll have the same number of resources, but their strategy for tackling the flames on the Taylor Creek Fire will be different.
“So their planning at a very long term, very big strategic level and still taking that charge of go direct when you can, fight fire aggressively having provided for safety first, make sure we don’t lose any homes, and get people back in their businesses.”