Josephine County Chetco Bar evacuations reduced

Josephine County, Ore.- Josephine County residents forced from their homes by the Chetco Bar Fire will be allowed to return Friday evening.

Illinois Valley Fire District announced Friday morning the Level 3 evacuation order issued for all residents on Illinois River Road within the U.S. Forest Service boundary, including the Oak Flat Community, will be reduced to a Level 2 effective 6 p.m. Friday evening.

A Level 2 evacuation notice is a “Be Set” notice. That means residents must be prepared to leave their homes at a moment’s notice. The level also indicates there is still significant danger in the area, so residents may want to consider staying away from home.

While the evacuation level will decrease, the U.S. Forest Service has closed Illinois River Road and is turning back public traffic. Drivers are advised to avoid the area so the appropriate wildland firefighter resources can respond to the emergency. Residents with proper identification may travel in and out of the area between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Meanwhile, a Level 1 “Be Ready” evacuation notice for the residents of Illinois Valley west of Hwy. 199 from Hayes Hill to the California state line will also be removed effective at 6 p.m. on Friday. However, residents in the area should be prepared for changing fire conditions.

Firefighters say the changes are made possible by the changing weather conditions, which will likely make the Chetco Bar Fire less active. Fire crews are also making headway fighting the flames, which was reflected in the 38 percent containment rate announced Friday morning.

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