Whiskey fire jumps line, wind shifts on Douglas Complex

Whiskey fire jumps line, wind shifts on Douglas Complex
K. Gregor photo of smoke plume on the Whiskey Complex fire.

ROSEBURG, Ore. - A wildfire somehow got past a fire line that had held for several days on the Whiskey Complex on the Umpqua National Forest east of Tiller, fire managers said, as the Douglas Complex grew even more massive in size.

"The line in Beaver Creek had held for several days, but a spark from the fire or a holdover from Friday’s lightning storm ignited in heavy timber on steep slopes, and even immediate attack by crews and helicopters was not enough to stop its growth," managers report.

The fire grew to 10 acres Wednesday night, but fire bosses expect the blaze to continue to grow.

The Whiskey Complex is one of two large complexes of fires burning Douglas County. A complex consolidates firefighting command to manage multiple fires in close proximity to one another.

The complex is estimated at 4,000 acres, 15 percent contained.

Overcast skies and more humid air may help calm the flames Thursday, but the clouds will also hamper helicopters used to dump water on the fires, fire managers said.

Douglas Complex

The Whiskey Complex looks like small potatoes compared to the Douglas Complex, which has burned over 28,000 acres and remains just 7 percent contained.

The good news: Wind out of the northwest should reduce the haze that enveloped Glendale, Oregon.

But evacuations are still in effect for Reuben Road, Mt. Reuben Road and McCullough Creek Road in Douglas County.  Josephine County is also continuing evacuations for Poorman Creek, Lower Graves Creek Road, Grave Creek Road, and Lower Wolf Creek.

The Oregon National Guard mobilized to assist firefighters. The Oregon Department of Forestry called the Douglas Complex and other fires burning in southwest Oregon the largest mobilization of firefighting resources in a decade.

The Oregon Army National Guard is providing aviation assets at the request of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Five aircraft are prepared to help with fire suppression including three HH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and one UH-72 Lakota.

Approximately 125 Soldiers along with 26 High Mobility Multi Wheeled Vehicles are also slated to be called-up on State Active Duty within the next 72 hours to assist with traffic control in the evacuated areas.