A team of attack helicopters work to contain the Rum Creek Fire burning in the Lower Rogue River Canyon near Rainy Falls on Thursday. [Jamie Lusch / Mail Tribune]
The Rum Creek Fire doubled in size on Saturday to 8,404 acres, prompting local officials to close more areas along the Rogue River in one of southern Oregon’s busiest recreation corridors.
The Bureau of Land Management and Josephine County have closed all recreation sites along the Rogue from Hog Creek to Grave Creek, including Hog Creek County Park, Indian Mary Park and Campground, the Ennis Riffle County Park and Almeda County Park and Campground.
BLM recreation sites that have closed include Hog Creek, Hellgate Overlook, Stratton Creek, Rainbow, Carpenter Island, Rocky Bar, Robert Dean, Chair, Rand, Smullin Visitor Center, Argo and Grave Creek. Other public land closures exist around the Rum Creek Fire, including the Rainie Falls Trail and the Lower Rogue River Trail.
Boaters will not be able to enter or exit from the Hog Creek boat launch below Grave Creek. Robertson Bridge County Park is the furthest downstream recreational river.
As of Sunday morning, Bear Camp Road remained open, according to an update from the fire crew.
“BLM does not take river closures lightly, and we have tried to keep the river open for as long as possible,” said Grants Pass field manager Bill Dean. “We apologize for the impacts to the rafting community and will reopen these recreational sites as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Windy conditions pushed the Rum Creek Fire south on Saturday and firefighters worked through the night to protect the area between Rand and Galicia, according to an update posted on Inciweb.
In a post Saturday evening, Rural Metro Fire in Josephine County said it had requested 20 other structural protection engine companies from across the state from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office, and these teams arrived on Saturday afternoon to relieve the local teams.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown invoked Oregon’s Conflagration Act Friday night to bolster state resources available to fire crews battling the fast-growing blaze.
“The fire took hold in the Stratton Creek drainage basin and upper Hog Creek this evening,” Rural Metro reported late Saturday.
“The fire experienced explosive growth (Friday) after erratic winds pushed the fire from the mountain towards the neighborhoods of Almeda County Park, Rand and Galicia,” Rural Metro reported. “He also jumped the river in steep, dry country with minimal roads. … At one point the fire conditions were too intense near Almeda Park and the crews had to disengage.
Air quality in Medford was good Sunday morning, but smoke and haze were expected to enter the area later in the day. The Illinois Valley was very likely to experience periods of poor air quality Sunday afternoon, the National Weather Service office in Medford reported.
For more information on the Rum Creek Fire, see facebook.com/rumcreekfire2022; or https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8348/ To be added to the daily mailing list, please email [email protected]
Contact Mail Tribune editor David Smigelski at 541-776-4484 or [email protected]