Fires burning in Josephine County

JOSEPHINE COUNTY — According to Rural Metro Fire, there were 29 confirmed fires on Sunday in Josephine County and since then, many more have sprung up.

It’s been a difficult fight for firefighters. Many of the fires were in isolated areas with rugged and dangerous terrain.

“We were right on that edge of almost running out of resources,” said Division Chief Austin Prince, Rural Metro Fire.

Firefighters in Josephine County have been busy fighting fires all weekend and Monday. Prince says progress has been slow, but efficient.

“The folks that were actually deployed were getting pretty well worked and were getting tired and the heat of the day was taking its toll,” he said.

All of the fires were caused by the lightning strikes except for a structure fire that is still being investigated in Grants Pass.

“Some help was brought in by helicopters that were out searching for lightning strikes that could help us get out there and stop it.”

Prince says there were 29 confirmed fires on Sunday, 19 of which were quickly contained. Monday, many more sprung up.

“And they’re throwing everything they can at those fires to get them under control,” he said.

Over in Cave Junction, the Illinois Valley Fire District says it saw 7 to 10 fires with many out by Grayback Mountain.

At this time, we don’t know of any that is running away and just looking to take over the whole hillside just yet,” said Deputy Chief Gavlik, Illinois Valley Fire District.

With so many fires, Gavlik says a big part of the process is deciding which ones are accessible. Many don’t have roads and are on dangerous mountain tops and ridge lines.

“Not all have the capability to even propel down to them due to the rugged county some of these are burning in,” he said.

Even with two strike teams activated earlier this year than ever before – with many agencies taking part from the Applegate to Rogue River – it says the extra manpower almost wasn’t enough.

“Crews with one man units going to each different fire and dealing with it on their own, it kind of stretches you a little bit thin,” Gavlick said.

Rural Metro Fire says they received nearly a hundred calls from people reporting fires this past weekend. And although they say it’s important to report fires, they also want to remind people to be patient as it can take some time for them to get the resources together needed to combat the fires.

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