Josephine County, Ore. — The Taylor Creek Fire near Grants Pass has been burning for more than two weeks. An infrared drone was used to monitor hot spots overnight across the containment lines. Homes in the Hog Creek and Picket Creek areas on the northeast corner of the fire are the number one priority right now for firefighters. Burnouts along the Rogue River have been successful so far in slowing the spread of the fire.
While temperatures are dropping, firefighters said fuels in the area are still extremely dry and shifting winds could increase fire behavior.
“Doing structure protection while the fire backs down into the creek here – they’re using it as a natural barrier to stop the fire,” said Brentwood Reid, public information officer for Pacific Northwest Team 2.
More than 1,000 crew members are now working to keep the flames from threatening structures, so people in nearby communities can return home.
“As the fire backs down the hill, it’s more of a low-intensity fire – than if the fire was to burn downhill,” Reid said.
The burnout is a tactic firefighters are utilizing in their fight against the flames.
“Like to burnout on ridges, and let it back down the ridge, as opposed to have it running up to the ridge sending spot fires across and growing,” Reid said.
A fight on the ground and from the air.
“Several helicopters – heavy helicopters and medium helicopters that are coming along, doing dropping buckets of water,” Reid said.
One bucket can carry hundreds of gallons of water. Fire crews are also utilizing drones to help put out the flames.
“During the day and at night, they are able to launch those drones and drop plastic spheres that will ignite and start to help burnout areas that are not able to get hand crews,” Reid said.
And while the smoke has become an issue throughout the area, it’s actually helping crews.
“One benefit to all this smoke is it’s been keeping the solar radiation off the fuels and keeping the fuels a little bit cooler,” Reid said.
Firefighters said they’re making good progress.
“We’ll be able to put more black on the line. And a lot more folks will be able to return to their homes,” Reid said.
As of Thursday, the Taylor Creek Fire is roughly 31,000 acres in size and 30% contained.