JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — The 13 fire Garner Complex in Jackson and Josephine Counties continues to grow.
The biggest concern to firefighters is the Grave and Taylor Creek Fires. They’re the two largest in the complex, and are burning in rugged, dangerous terrain.
The Oregon Department of Forestry has called in a statewide team to help put the fires out. However, they say the main problem is with so many other large fires in the area, it’s been difficult to get the resources they need.
“Haven’t seen us…really be in a situation where we were competing against other resources,” said Joe Touchstone, Public Information Officer for the Oregon Dept. of Forestry.
The many fires burning across Southwest Oregon is weighing on ODF’s resources. They say more help may be needed, especially to fight the two fastest growing fires in the complex.
“It’s really quite a unique situation where we have multiple large fires going at the same time,” said Touchstone.
The Taylor Creek and Grave Creek Fires are both moving toward areas with homes.
“There was no way the Grants Pass or Medford office were able to support 2,000 people,” he said.
That’s why they’ve called in a statewide incident management team, but they say they’re facing many problems. From hot weather conditions to rugged, dangerous terrain, Joe Touchstone says he’s never seen anything like it.
“They’re ordering from the same place we are,” he said. “And so, everyone is drawing on the same sources of supplies and crews.”
And that strain is resulting in other impacts.
“It can create a lack of communication which is one of our most essential tools here,” Touchstone said.
Despite the struggles, firefighters are pushing on knowing their work will be accomplished.
“It’s taken a little longer than we would like, but that’s just the reality of what’s on the ground,” he said.
Touchstone says both the Taylor Creek and Grave Creek Fires are zero percent contained, at the moment. The Taylor Creek Fire is more than 5,000 acres and the Grave Creek Fire is more than 4,000 with level 2 and 3 evacuations still in effect for many areas.