Firefighters make progress on Hendrix Fire near Ashland

ASHLAND, Ore. –  Firefighters are taking advantage of favorable conditions to make progress on the Hendrix Fire 9 miles southwest of Ashland. The Oregon Department of Forestry is in Unified Command with the U.S. Forest Service on the fire. The 1,060-acre fire is burning in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and on about 180 acres of private land protected by ODF. The fire was started by lightning that passed through southern Oregon on July 15. It is currently 20 percent contained. Some 520 personnel are engaged on the fire.

On Sunday, helicopters were hampered by poor visibility over the fire’s helibase. One of the Type 2 helicopters was loaned to the Prospect Fire and was unable to return after its duties due to challenging smoke conditions at the Prospect Fire’s helibase.  Sharing resources continues to be a powerful tool among all of the fire teams operating in southern Oregon and beyond. Helicopters will continue to support firefighters on the ground, including dropping water and conducting reconnaissance flights as needed and conditions allow. 

If conditions are favorable, crews may continue small strategic firing operations on the southwest portion of the fire. They will work to tie the main fire perimeter along the ridges down to hand lines and dozer lines in more accessible terrain to help secure the area.

Firefighters continue going direct, creating fireline along the fire’s perimeter on the east side of the fire. On the north and northeast portions of the fire, firefighters are mopping up and extinguishing or removing burning material near firelines to help secure the area. Good containment has been achieved on the northwest side of the fire.

Resources committed to the fire include:
  • 22 fire engines
  • 10 water tenders
  • 5 assigned dozers and additional dozers on loan from cooperators
  • 2 masticators for chipping brush
  • 3 skidgens
  • 5 helicopters
  • 4 Hot Shot crews
  • 13 hand crews

Drivers near the intersection of Upper Applegate and Little Applegate should watch for firefighters and fire vehicles in the area as the fire team sets up a vehicle wash station there to help prevent weeds caught underneath brush trucks and other apparatus from being carried from area to area. Efforts like this help prevent the spread of invasive weeds like the yellow star thistle.

The forecast for southern Oregon for the foreseeable future is continued hot temperatures and drying fuels. The temperatures at higher elevations and peaks near the fire also continue to rise with an expected 90 degrees at 4,500 feet elevation by Wednesday. There is a chance of thunderstorms early this week. Fire crews will remain vigilant and are prepared to attack any new fire starts if they occur.

Firefighters are aggressively suppressing the fire where they can do so safely and effectively to protect and minimize fire effects to residential structures, private property, industrial timber lands, and natural and cultural resources. Public and firefighter safety is the number one priority.

The lightning-caused Watershed Fire (9 acres), Bull Gap Fire (3.5 acres), and 288 Fire (a tenth of an acre) remain in patrol status.

Evacuations and closures 
Level 2 and Level 3 evacuations remain in place for residents near Hells Peak, southeast of Ruch. Details are available at https://jacksoncountyor.org/sheriff/. More info about evacuation levels and preparedness can be found at https://www.rvem.org. Video from last night’s Hendrix Community Meeting at the Ruch Branch Library is available online at https://tinyurl.com/yczf47z9 . Additional community meetings will be held periodically.

 

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Hendrix Fire Area Closure for the southern portion of the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District remains in effect.  Detailed info and a map of the area closure are available at https://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou. The closure has been revised to show Forest Road 20 as being OPEN from the Upper Applegate Road to Jackson Gap.  Forest Road 20 is closed from Jackson Gap East to Ashland  Watershed including access to Dutchman Lookout.

The Pacific Crest Trail is closed from where it meets National Forest Road No.40S01 (Observation Gap) to the Grouse Gap Shelter. Re-route information is available at https://www.pcta.org/discover-the-trail/closures/oregon/hendrix-fire-southern-oregon/.

Smoke is expected to linger in the area . Today’s smoke forecast, including information about where the nearest clear air is located are available at https://wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks.

High smoke levels can have hazardous impact on health. People with respiratory or heart disease, children, and the elderly should stay inside and contact their healthcare providers if they become ill. Visit https://oregonsmoke.blogspot.com/ for more information.

Maps of the Hendrix Fire can be found at https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/information/fire_info.aspx