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Oregon’s Rum Creek wildfire nearly doubles in size to more than 8,000 acres

Aug 28, 2022, 12:17 PM | Updated: Aug 30, 2022, 11:25 am

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(CNN) — A wildfire burning in southwest Oregon has grown to 8,404 acres, according to a Sunday update by fire officials, nearly double the acreage the blaze had consumed a day prior.

Approximately 740 personnel are now battling the Rum Creek fire after officials from the Northwest 13 Incident Management Team assumed command of the response Sunday morning along with two state agencies from the Oregon State Fire Marshal and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

The influx of resources and personnel will help with both fire suppression and protection, officials said in a news release Sunday on InciWeb, a clearinghouse for US fire information. Additional air support is now possible after officials added a second aviation base, and several task forces have been brought in to relieve locals while others are working on structure protection near the community of Galice.

“There is nothing easy about fighting fire in this country,” Joe Hessel, incident commander of the forestry department’s Team 1, said in an update. “Things can change very quickly. We are here to support the community and our fellow firefighters.”

The fire, about a 50-mile drive northwest of Medford, has been burning since mid-August when it was caused by lightning. But it tripled its burned acreage between Friday and Saturday due to strong winds, officials said in a previous update on InciWeb. At the time, the fire had consumed 4,319 acres.

The fire’s growth since then was again attributed to strong winds and dry fuels, officials said in their update Sunday, which also warned a coming heat wave could make things worse.

The fire has already prompted evacuation orders for the communities of Rand and Galice in a rural area of Josephine County, though residents in other areas have been warned to be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice.

The blaze has claimed the life of one wildland firefighter: Logan Taylor, 25, died fighting the fire last week when he was struck by a tree, officials said.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a tweet Saturday she is invoking the Emergency Conflagration Act to make additional state resources available “to slow the fire’s progress.”

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Oregon’s Rum Creek wildfire nearly doubles in size to more than 8,000 acres