Klondike Fire edging towards communities

JOSEPHINE & CURRY COUNTY, Ore. — The Klondike Fire continues to grow.

The East side of the fire is no longer threatening communities like Wilderville, Wonder, and Selma. It’s the West side that’s now the top priority as flames are edging closer to Agness and Gold Beach.

More than 1,200 people are fighting the Klondike Fire which is now burning in both Josephine and Curry Counties. Fire official say they’ve been on the defensive, setting up fire lines and anxiously waiting for some favorable North-West winds to push the fire away from communities.

“Our biggest priority right now is making sure that we have protection in front of the community of Agness,” said Kaitlyn Webb, Public Information Officer for the Klondike Fire.

The Klondike Fire is now burning more than 102,000 acres. Growth has been slow over the last 24 hours, but protecting the communities West of the flames is firefighters top priority.

Right now, flames are 7 air miles away from Agness and 15 air miles away from Gold Beach.
That’s been the case since Wednesday, but the fire has grown over 1,000 acres.

Fire officials say they’ve been using all their available resources to protect the threatened communities. However, because the fire is burning in an area that is so remote and rugged, they haven’t been able to put teams on the ground.

“It’s not a safe place to drop firefighters because we don’t feel it’s an area we want to leave them,” said Webb. “We’re not able to get them out if need be.”

That’s why air resources like drones and helicopters have been essential as well as a team of 20 firefighters called hot shots who are famous for being the best of the best.

“They are able to go into a variety of different vegetation types, different fire behavior, get right to work, and handle whatever task is given to them,”she said.

Meanwhile, Webb says they’re just waiting for the right weather conditions to push flames away from communities.

“We don’t want winds that are going to be pushing our burning operation back towards the community of Agnes,” she said. “We want it to be a condition where if we’re laying fire on the ground it is going to be pushed back towards the main fire.”

Today, Webb says they’re hoping to start some of their fire operations like putting a safety buffer in front of the town of Agness. The fire is forty percent contained tonight.

Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.

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