Starting July 27, the Illinois Valley News will publish stories from the Biscuit Fire 20 years ago until the date it was extinguished.
July 17, 2002 – IV News
Remote wildfires bring hazy days to the valley, as forest service considers battle planning.
By Bob Rodriguez
Hazy skies in Illinois Valley are the result of several fires burning in Southern Oregon after a lightning storm passed through the region Saturday, July 13.
On Monday, July 15, the flames of the Squire Fire in Ruch were fanned by afternoon winds, pushing the smoke into Illinois Valley.
“With the winds, the fire blew up, and Josephine County Task force was called into effect,” said Chief Kyle Kerchner of Illinois Valley Rural Fire Protection District. In order to aid the Jackson County Task Force, IVRFPD sent a water tender to the emergency.
Because of drifting smoke, a number of smoke investigation calls have been handled by the I.V. District. Residents see smoke and phone for help, thinking that perhaps there’s a fire nearby.
Five fires are burning in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness of the Siskiyou National Forest. A U.S. Forest Service fire suppression crew hiked into the area of the Florence Fire on July 15. On Tuesday, July 16 the Carter Fire had grown to approximately to 20 acres.
Also in the Kalmiopsis, the Biscuit Complex includes four fires, Biscuit One, Biscuit Two, the Carter Fire and the Sourdough Fire.
Except for the Carter Fire, blazes are being monitored, but not actively fought as of Tuesday.
Burning west of O’Brien approximately a half mile apart on Monday Biscuit One was at 300 acres; Biscuit Two was estimated at 75 acres. On Tuesday the two fires had grown to 600 acres. The fires are burning in steep, rugged terrain, difficult to access.
The Sourdough Fire, in the vicinity of Sourdough Campground, was estimated at 10 acres on Tuesday. Biscuit One, Two and Sourdough are being monitored by the forest service. In order to fight the fire effectively, the forest service is waiting until there are sufficient resources to do so.
The high number of fires in the Northwest has forest service stretched thin, said the forest service. It also anticipates forming a fire management team.
The Carter fire is near Bailey Cabin and Trail. On Monday that blaze consisted of approximately 12 acres, with two contract crews having reached 50% containment. It was estimated that the crews would have it fully contained by Tuesday.
“Although lightning caused these fires, conditions are very dry, and the public is cautioned to be fire safe,” said Bob Del Monte, incident commander for the fire.