Need to protect homes as Garner Complex Fire inches closer

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — As of noon on Tuesday, the Oregon State Fire Marshal says the Taylor Creek Fire is a half a mile from homes on West Picket Creek Road. Meanwhile, the Grave Creek Fire is about 2 miles from homes on Limpy Creek Road.

The two fires total more than fifteen thousand acres alone, and firefighters expect them to grow even more today due to hot temperatures and wind gusts.

“We could get fire down to those homes today,” said Justin de Ruyter, Oregon State Fire Marshal. “Yea, forsure, just kind of depends what the weather does.”

The Taylor and Grave Creek Fires are expanding fast.

“A lot of homes out here to the East, lot of homes out here to the South,” De Ruyter said.

Justin de Ruyter says they’ve accessed most of the homes around the fires.

“They’ve got a checklist of items they look at,” he said. “And they kind of make a determination whether they can protect or not based upon fire conditions as well.”

That means they are figuring out how they’ll fare if fire gets close.

“A lot of that is do they have defensible space already, you know, what kind of material is the roof is made out of,” De Ruyter said.

However, scoring high on the checklist may not be enough to protect your home.

“Most of the fires…when we lose homes is from spot fires,” he said. “It’s not from actual fire coming up and hitting the house.”

And with high winds common in this area…

“Some of these smoke columns are ten, fifteen thousand feet high.”

De Ruyter says there’s not much they can do. They’re simply preparing and hoping for the best.

“Hopefully, we can get the lines in place and get some burn outs down… just to create that buffer before it gets there,” he said. “We’re just racing against the clock there.”

De Ruyter says today is a critical day for firefighters at the Garner Complex since hot weather conditions and possible wind gusts have left firefighters protecting homes on high alert.

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