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Crews are making progress against wildfires

 Posted: 11:40 AM August 16, 2013

Firefighters have made gains against Southern Oregon fires, extending and reinforcing lines to corral the blazes that have scorched nearly 76,500 acres.

Fire officials report good progress on fire lines around the 16,346-acre Big Windy Complex burning along the Rogue River 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass. Although the fire is still listed as just 15 percent contained, officials said a significant amount of work has been completed in recent days.

On Thursday, crews enhanced fire lines on the south, southeast, and east flanks by burning vegetation that could fuel the fire. A "helitorch," which ignites fires from the air, was used to burn out brush between the main fire and the containment line, officials reported on this morning. Work to secure and hold areas cleared on Thursday will continue today.

The Douglas Complex seven miles north of Glendale has burned 46,059 acres and is listed at 65 percent contained this morning, Oregon Department of Forestry reported.

Temperatures in the area of the fire are expected to be several degrees cooler than Thursday with some fog reported this morning. These conditions should slow the flames and give crews a chance to reinforce fire lines, officials reported.

On Thursday, crews working on the ground and from the air set controlled fires to burn potential fuels inside the fire lines. That work will continue today, clouding the skies near the fire with smoke, officials reported.

In the 12,070-acre Whiskey Complex six miles east of Tiller, two small fires have been fully contained and lines are being strengthened around the largest blaze, the Whiskey fire, which has burned 10,363 acres and is 55 percent contained. Full containment is expected by Aug. 20.

Crews continue to keep a watchful eye on the smoldering 2,023-acre Labrador fire 13 miles northwest of Cave Junction on the edge of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness.

Today helicopters will search for hot spots from the air and are prepared to drop water on any flare-ups, fire officials reported on this morning. On the ground, crews are chipping small trees and brush to remove flammable materials from the fire lines carved so far.

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