DFPA News Release: I-5 Mile Post 163 Fire (1:00 am update)
At approximately 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, crews from the Douglas Forest Protective Association and North Douglas County Fire & EMS responded to a reported natural cover fire near I-5 mile post 163 north bound. While en-route to the fire, responding units were notified of reports received by the Douglas County 911 Communication Center of multiple fires that were burning alongside Interstate 5, near the Curtin area. When firefighters arrived on scene, they located six fires burning between milepost 162 and milepost 165 northbound.
Crews were able to quickly knock down the four most northern fires, the largest of which burned about four acres. The two most southern fires, located just north of the I-5 mp 162 onramp, challenged firefighters as both fires moved quickly up the hillside. Two helicopters were used to help cool the fires as crews and bulldozers worked their way around the fires. An air tanker from the Medford Tanker Base was also dispatched to the fire and delivered one load of fire retardant across the top of the southern two fires, slowing the fires spread farther up the hill. These two fires eventually merged together and are estimated to be about 78 acres in size. A more accurate size will be measured using a GPS unit in the coming days. Crews reported that dozer line has been completed around the majority of the fires and crews are working to install hose lays around the fires perimeter. Firefighters anticipate that dozer lines will be completed around all the fires by Saturday morning.
Structural firefighters from multiple fire departments also responded to the area to provide additional support not only for the natural cover fire but also to triage homes in the area and provide structure protection if needed. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, working with fire personnel on scene, issued a level 1 evacuation notice (be ready) for residents immediately around the fire area. As of 1:00 a.m., no homes were damaged and with the threat to structures diminishing, additional structural resources were being released from the fire to return to their home districts.
The Oregon Department of Transportation closed one lane of Interstate Five near the fire as crews worked alongside the freeway. Firefighters will be working in the area for the next couple days so motorists passing through the area are asked to drive with caution. Updates regarding lane closures near the fire can be found online at www.tripcheck.com/
In addition to DFPA and the North Douglas County Fire & EMS crews, the following agencies also responded to the Mile Post 163 fire:
• Oregon Department of Forestry
• South Lane County Fire & Rescue
• Elkton Rural Fire Department
• Kellogg Rural Fire Department
• Sutherlin Rural Fire Department
• Fair Oaks Rural Fire Department
• Oakland Rural Fire Department
• Douglas County Fire District #2
• Myrtle Creek Rural Fire Department
• Tri-City Rural Fire Department
• Riddle Rural Fire Department
• Canyonville – South Umpqua Fire Department
• Douglas County Sheriff’s Office
• Oregon Department of Transportation
The cause of the Mile Post 163 fires are currently under investigation.