Rogue River-Siskiyou NF helping battle Smith River Complex at Oregon border

CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. – The ‘Smith River Complex’ has officially crossed the Oregon border, as more resources arrive to help fight the fires.

“We’ve actively started engaging on where those fires are at and how we can assist the Six Rivers National Forest on suppressing these fires and keeping them small and keeping them in California, where they’re at, and not waiting for them to come to us,” District Ranger Scott Blower said.

The Smith River Complex, in the Six Rivers National Forest, includes 12 confirmed fires, the biggest being the Kelly and Holiday fires.

It’s now over 30,000 acres in size and 0% contained.

But the fires continue to grow and on Saturday it entered into the Rogue River Siskiyou National Forest.

Now, the U.S. Forest Service has called for ‘Pacific Northwest Incident Management Team 13’ to join a unified command with California’s incident management team.

“Everything we have to offer on district, on forest as well as what the region office has given us, is engaged 100 percent,” Blower said.

Blower is the District Ranger for the ‘Wild Rivers Ranger District’ in Cave Junction.

He said the forest service is working with several agencies., including ODF and local fire departments to keep the fire from spreading into Oregon.

Currently, over 800 personnel are on scene with much more expected.

Blower said they’re able to get to the fire without using Highway 199, helping firefighters on the California side.

“We don’t have to rely on that corridor at the center of that Kelly fire,” he said. “We can have resources on each side and attack from each side, and that also helps provides for the firefighters safety as we’re not putting them at risk inside that active burn.”

The forest service has initial attack equipment ready in Cave Junction, in case the fire spreads more rapidly.

Right now, a small section of the complex is in Curry County.

But residents in Josephine County should remain on alert, with Level 2 ‘Be Ready’ evacuations in place in the southern part of the county.

“Those that are in a level 2 evacuation, they need to be able to leave at a moment’s notice,” Blower said. “That’s why level 2 has been established is so they are thinking about where their livestock need to go, where can they go should that fire cross those lines.”

The forest service said Monday’s cooler weather and smoky conditions helped reduce fire behavior, allowing firefighters to line more of the fires.

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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.
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