Rum Creek Fire tops 1,200 acres

·3 min read

Aug. 26—Firefighters are continuing to hold the Rum Creek Fire on the south side of the Rogue River and are working to reduce the risk that sparks or embers could float over the river and ignite fuels on the north side, fire managers said Friday.

The 1,256-acre fire is burning northwest of Grants Pass in the Lower Rogue River Canyon along the popular Rainie Falls Trail.

"This is a full suppression fire in rugged country with heavy fuels," Eric Riener, incident commander trainee for Northwest Incident Management Team 13, said in a Monday press release.

Since the team assumed command of the fire last Sunday, helicopters have dropped more than a half-million gallons of water on the fire. Airplanes have dropped a quarter-million gallons of retardant. An additional helibase was being established north of the current fire footprint to provide additional support, fire managers said Friday.

Crews are working steadily on the unburned north side of the river to reduce fuels that could catch fire if winds carry sparks or embers across the river. Chipping operations began to remove larger branches and brush cleared from roadways and fire lines, fire managers said.

The Rainie Falls Trail stretches about 1.8 miles from its trailhead on Galice Road near the Grave Creek Bridge downriver to Rainie Falls. The river is forced into a narrow chute, creating a rushing cascade of water and fierce rapids.

By Friday morning, the Rum Creek Fire extended more than one-third of the way from Rainie Falls upstream toward the trailhead, and it covered more terrain downstream from Rainie Falls. The fire is burning on the steep mountain sides and cliffs that rise up on the south side of the river.

The Rogue River Trail runs for 40 miles on the north side of the river, which wasn't on fire as of Friday.

Firefighters' main goals are to stop the fire from jumping the river while also keeping the fire's perimeter as small as possible between the Big Windy Fire burn scar to the west and Galice Road to the east, fire managers said.

Firefighters are continuing work to suppress and contain spot fires, fire managers said.

Galice Road between Almeda County Park and Grave Creek is closed to nonessential traffic.

The river will remain open for rafters with permits unless the danger to life rises. Updates about whether the river is open or closed to river traffic are posted no later than 6 a.m. at facebook.com/rumcreekfire2022.

Medford Bureau of Land Management land is closed on both sides of the river between Almeda County Park and Grave Creek.

The Josephine County Sheriff's Office has issued a Level 1 — Be Ready evacuation notice for the areas south and west of the Rogue River and north of Bear Camp Road, including Rand, Galice and Galice Creek Road. For evacuation updates, see rvem.org/incident-info/josephine-county.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.