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South Umpqua Complex Fire burning 1,500 acres

The fires have continued to grow over the last few days, and crews are working hard to find them all and get them contained.

Posted: Jul. 20, 2018 4:40 PM
Updated: Jul. 20, 2018 6:25 PM

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ore. -- In Southern Douglas County, the South Umpqua Complex Fire has grown to just over 1,500 acres.

Information Officer Tom Berglund said of the 25 to 30 lightning-caused fires in the area, the Miles Fire is burning around 450 acres, making it the largest in the South Umpqua Complex.

“Of our 589 fire fighters that we have altogether here, a couple hundred of them are working on the Miles Fire,” Berglund said. “So, it’s our highest priority.”

The Northwest Incident Management Team is hoping for about 100 additional crew members.

Right now, they have 18 fire engines, six bulldozers, five fire tenders, and three helicopters at their disposal.

But they’ve continued to request more equipment, which officials don’t know if they’ll get.

“There are several teams out. Lots of fires going on in Oregon, Washington, region-wide,” Berglund said. “So, the resources already -- here we are in mid-July, a little after mid-July, and resources are stretched thin right now for us. But we’re taking what we have and doing as much as we can.”

One piece of equipment they do have is a drone.

They’re using it to try to spot areas near the Columbus and HD fires so crews can create fire lines.

They also have heli-rappel crews, which Helibase Manager William Evans said will help them get to those harder-to-reach areas quickly.

“Having crews like the heli-rappelers is oftentimes essential in getting into areas that are hard to access with fire engines or hand crews quickly," Evans said. "They’re able to get on-scene very quickly and deploy highly-skilled firefighting personnel to catch fires while they’re small.”

Officials said the fires in the South Umpqua Complex are currently at roughly eight percent containment.

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