3 structures destroyed in Rum Creek Fire

·3 min read

Aug. 29—Three buildings near Galice were destroyed after the Rum Creek Fire exploded over the weekend, including one home, and fire officials say they're still in the midst of assessing structures in the fire zone.

The destroyed residence was in the hills above Almeda County Park, according to a news update from Rural Metro Fire of Josephine County posted on social media at 10:48 p.m. Sunday.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal's Blue Team and Northwest Incident Management Team 13 are assessing other buildings accessible only by narrow winding roads above Galice, according to Rural Metro. Fire damage to the narrow roadways complicates access, they said.

On Monday morning, the lightning-caused wildfire had a footprint of 10,709 acres, according to Inciweb, an increase of 2,305 acres since Sunday morning.

The state fire marshal's Blue Team has brought 135 extra personnel and multiple engines focused on protecting structures in the fire zone. They were brought in Sunday as part of the governor's Conflagration Act declaration alongside Oregon Department of Forestry's Incident Management Team 1, and are working in unified command with Northwest IMT 13.

Some 916 personnel are working the fire as of Monday, an increase from 738 firefighters Sunday. In addition to the state resources, out-of-state help is being brought in through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, according to a joint release from the agencies Monday.

A Josephine County evacuation map with incident data shows that since the fire began Aug. 17, there have been two injuries and one fatality, that of 25-year-old firefighter Logan Taylor of Talent. A memorial service was held for Taylor Monday in Medford.

Crews were focusing their efforts Monday on containment lines west of the fire intended to protect the community of Galice, according to the midday update.

Homeowners on or near Galice Road may see fire crews and engines near their homes Monday. Fire officials said crews were installing sprinkler kits and using hand tools to remove vegetation among other efforts to protect homes and outbuildings should the fire threaten structures.

Shifting winds and weather patterns are expected to impact air quality across Josephine County, but are also expected to temper the flames and "have a slight cooling effect on the fire," according to officials.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended its air quality advisory for Jackson, Josephine and Curry counties through at least Thursday.

Medford's air quality, tested at Welch and Jackson streets, has been at "moderate" since 6 p.m. Sunday, and reached "unhealthy for sensitive groups" air quality at 7 p.m. Sunday and midnight and 2 a.m. Monday, according to Oregon's Smoke Information blog.

Health officials recommend that vulnerable individuals — such as infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant people — protect themselves by staying inside when smoke levels are high, keeping windows and doors closed. Use HEPA filters in indoor ventilation systems and portable air purifiers, avoid strenuous outdoor activity and wear N95 or P100 respirators when outdoors, they said.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.