Illinois Valley Fire helping community while fighting Smith River Complex

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – The Smith River Complex continuing to burn deeper into Illinois Valley.

It’s lone fire agency, Illinois Valley Fire District, has been helping battle the fires for weeks now.

Earlier this week, fire chief John Holmes said he had to make a decision on whether to call in more help through the conflagration act.

“We were devising a plan,” he said.  “What can we do to make this more safer for our community. At that point, the conflagration act from the governor’s office we really looked at that long and hard to make sure that we have all of our critical infrastructure  in place, we had enough of a threat coming in from O‘Brien.”

On Monday night, Oregon governor Tina Kotek approved the request.

Over 100 personnel from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office were called in to help structure protection efforts in Josephine County.

Chief Holmes said having OSFM now allows the fire district to be more available for incidents in the Illinois Valley area.

“We needed the team to more concentrate on the wildland aspect of it and IV fire being a structural agency,” Holmes said. “We do go to vegetation fires, we go to grass fires, we take care of that business, but when it comes to a more complex type fire that this one’s at, we call in the wildland fires and we stay more for what happens here in the valley.”

Favorable weather conditions are expected over the complex in the next few days, into the weekend.

Cooler temperatures and cloud cover have the potential to increase relative humidity.

Although it’s expected to be windy at times, rain is also in the forecast.

“While it will put water on the fire line, it will not necessarily be a wetting rain which won’t be putting the fire out, it may slow the progression of the fire, and moderate fire behavior but we still see a lot of dry fuels,” Northwest Incident Management Team 13 Randall Rishe said.

Winds out of the northeast have been pushing the fire back on itself, helping limit the spread of the fires.

However, the winds are expected to shift to the southwest this weekend.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
Skip to content