JACKSON COUNTY, Ore. — The two fires still burning Northeast of Trail have scorched more than 43,000 acres.
The Miles Fire has destroyed two structures, including one home, but fire managers say it’s no longer presenting a threat to other homes or structures. However, there are other so-called special values at risk.
“Not just to the native people, but to the local folks this is a special area and people worry that fire is going to take it all out…,” said Kale Casey, U.S. Forest Service.
It’s what Casey says is being called a “special interest area” because it’s federal land and also tribal land managed by the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians.
“They have their own government to government relationship with the federal government and have interests in this area…,” he said.
And Casey says balancing these different interests also changes their strategy in fighting flames.
“When there’s homes, businesses, infrastructure, community assets at risk,” he said. “We usually go much more aggressively and try to fight fire on our terms…search and destroy the heat, attack it, mop it up, and put it out,” he said.
In this case, they are considering letting the fire burn naturally.
“Sometimes the way a fire burns a landscape can benefit the ecosystem and can benefit traditional gathering rights…,” he said.
But Casey says there’s still some risk involved.
“Sometimes natural fire is actually worse for a landscape if it gets really intense on it’s own or gets driven by wind when there’s drought,” he said.
Casey says there’s a strong control line already in place on the Eastern side of the Miles and Columbus Fires, which is giving them some time to decide how exactly they want to fight the flames.
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