MFR preps for transient fires on Bear Creek Greenway

Jackson County, Ore. — The Oregon Department of Forestry raised the fire danger level to high on Friday morning. That threat level covers about 1.8 million acres in Jackson and Josephine Counties.

It means you should be extra cautious and be sure you are aware of all ODF regulations. While ODF is focused on wildfires crews with Medford Fire-Rescue have a different challenge.

The region is only about a month into summer and already Medford Fire-Rescue’s had to deal with several transient fires. That’s why they’re continually preparing and training, because if they don’t – a plot of greenery can easily turn into ash in a matter of minutes.

“We know that once stuff starts drying out, we’re going to have fires down on the greenway, typically from transients,” said Deputy Chief Justin Bates, Medford Fire-Rescue.

Bates has seen it all before.

“Both from campfires that they have set or just people smoking and walking along the greenway,” he said.

The Bear Creek Greenway is a problem area and a common spot for grass fires in the Rogue valley for years.

“That’s a large area spread throughout the city and so that kind of population comes and goes,” he said.

Which is why Medford Fire-Rescue’s team is actively getting ready for what’s to come — so there aren’t any surprises.

“We do prepare for it. Every summer we have the same problem. Staff our brush rigs to be able to get down there, we pre-plan the areas as far as gates and access to get down there,” he said.

An area Medford Fire-Rescue needs to know like the back of its hand, because if something does happen firefighters won’t have much time before a small spark becomes a big problem.

“Most of the stuff down there is light grass which is the slightest little spark or ash can have that stuff take off pretty quickly and then it moves into the trees and the blackberries and all that kind of stuff,” he said.

Medford Fire-Rescue is reminding everyone – if you see something, say something. Even if you’re not 100% sure, give them a call.

NBC5 News Reporter and Weather Forecaster Nikki Torres graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Strategic Communication from The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

She also received a minor in Business Administration from the Washington State University Carson College of Business. Prior to coming to NBC5, Nikki was an intern at KHQ Local News, the NBC affiliate in Spokane.

She comes to Southern Oregon from the state of Washington, where she grew up just south of Seattle. She loves running, exploring the Pacific Northwest, watching a good football game and spending time with her dog, Gisele. True to her roots, Nikki is a proud WSU Cougar fan and loyal Seahawks fan.

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