Update (Tuesday, 5:20 p.m.): The Siskiyou Fire in Ashland is 85 percent contained as of this afternoon, and the Deer Ridge Fire is 45 percent contained, according to fire officials.

Update (Tuesday, 5:20 p.m.): The Siskiyou Fire in Ashland is 85 percent contained as of this afternoon, and the Deer Ridge Fire is 45 percent contained, according to fire officials.

Full containment means the firefighters have secured the perimeter of the fire and all hot spots between 50 and 100 feet inside of the fire line have remained extinguished for several hours.

The Siskiyou Fire burned 145 acres of grass, brush and forest in south Ashland, and the Deer Ridge Fire burned 630 acres of brush and some forest east of Medford, according to Brian Ballou, fire prevention specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the agency in charge of the fires.

One home and three outbuildings burned in the Siskiyou Fire, and no structures were burned in the Deer Ridge Fire. Five hundred homes, businesses and other structures were threatened by the blazes, according to Ballou.

More than 475 firefighters are assigned to fight the fires. Officials estimate the cost — so far — of suppressing the fires is approximately $820,000.

Today the Federal Emergency Management Agency authorized the use of federal funds to help battle the Ashland and Medford fires.

— Staff reports

Editors Note: Today's Daily Tidings has been selling out at stores and newspaper boxes around town. Lisa Greenman, circulation district manager for the Tidings, said extra copies of Tuesday's newspaper will be available in the Tidings' office on Wednesday.

Update (Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.): The Siskiyou blaze is still uncontained, but firefighting efforts are “going extremely well,” a fire official said at 2:20 p.m.

“We don't have any numbers on containment,” said Brian Ballou, fire prevention specialist with the Oregon Department of Forestry, the agency in charge of the fire. “But there's nothing bad to report.”

Fire officials expect to announce this evening that a percentage of the fire is contained, he said.

Full containment means the firefighters have secured the perimeter of the fire and all hot spots between 50 and 100 feet inside of the fire line have remained extinguished for several hours.

Officials are reluctant to release containment numbers until the day's winds dies down, because gusts can stir up embers and create hot spots, Ballou said.

So far today, winds have remained light, giving firefighters a chance to corral the blaze, he said.

“The winds never got very strong at all,” he said. “They were steady, so it's good day to fight a fire.”

—Hannah Guzik

Update (Tuesday, 9:15 a.m.): Here is the latest information about the Siskiyou fire that broke out in south Ashland Monday morning:

• 153 acres burned
• 1 house burned
• 3 or 4 sheds and 1 pickup truck burned
• Nearly all evacuees have returned home
• The fire is not yet contained. Officials are expected to announce this afternoon that a percentage of the fire is contained.
• Containment means the firefighters have secured the perimeter of the fire and all hot spots between 50 and 100 feet inside of the fire line have remained extinguished for several hours.
• Firefighters worked throughout the night extinguishing hot spots and trying to secure the perimeter of the fire.
• Forecasts call for strong winds again today, so firefighters are watching hot spots closely.
• For more information on the blaze, call the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center at 776-7338.

(Information from the Oregon Department of Forestry as of 8 a.m. this morning.)

Due to the current weather conditions — including low humidity, sustained south to southeast winds at 10 to 12 mph and gusting to 19 mph in Ashland — the city of Ashland has suspended all use of power-driven equipment in areas of combustible vegetation until further notice. All permits are suspended at this time as well.

These restrictions have been invoked in order to prevent wildfires in Ashland and are in addition to other restrictions still in place in accordance with the Oregon Fire Code 102.8.

If you have questions, please contact Ashland Fire & Rescue at 482.2770.

(Information from the City of Ashland website.)

— Hannah Guzik

Update (5:45 p.m.): The fire that has churned through the south Ashland hills today is not contained, the lead agency in charge of the blaze said at 5:30 p.m.

The news came about an hour after an update on the city's Web site declared the fire fully contained.

“We can not confirm that right now,” said Lynn Anderson, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Forestry, the agency in charge of the fire. “There's a lot of information to gather before we're ready to say that.”

There are likely still hotspots in the hills above Siskiyou Boulevard, south of Tolman Creek Road, she said.

Crews are still embedded along the fire perimeter, although some units have been transferred to Medford where another blaze broke out this afternoon, Anderson said.

It's unclear who is updating the city's Web site and why a 4:30 p.m. message declared the fire fully contained, she said.

“We are always very conservative about saying ‘contained' or ‘controlled,' and until we have the fire divided up and have the reports on the ground, we don't say that,” Anderson said.

Fire officials are also cautious about declaring a fire contained before they have had a chance to assess the damage and potentially qualify people who lost their homes for Federal Emergency Management Agency relief funding, she said.

Preliminary reports indicate that two structures have burned in the fire perimeter, although it's unclear whether the structures were homes, Anderson added.

“We won't know everything until some of this smoke lays down,” she said.

Anderson advised evacuees to make plans to stay at an emergency shelter or friend's home for the night.

“All of the roads are going to be blocked with fire equipment,” she said. “You're not going get there and if you do, you won't want to breathe,” because of the smoke.

Two overnight shelters have been set up for fire evacuees.

Those displaced by the fire can go to First Baptist Church, 2004 Siskiyou Blvd., and the Oregon Army National Guard Armory, 1420 E. Main St. Cots will be set up at the evacuation shelters, county emergency response officials said.

Evacuees with large animals are being directed to the Jackson County Expo in Central Point. People with small animals are being advised to check with the shelters to see if they can stay there.

For more information on the fire, call the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center at 776-7338.
—Hannah Guzik

Update (4:40 p.m.): The Ashland Fire is contained and the Emergency Operations Center is releasing personnel and closing down operations, according to a posting on the City of Ashland website.

Residents who have been evacuated will be allowed to return to their homes as soon as fire personnel have cleared the roadways into the area, the posting stated.

The fire in Ashland has been named the Siskiyou Fire, according to a press release from Jackson County Emergency Management.

Update (3:56 p.m.): The fire in the south Ashland hills is almost contained, fire officials said at 3:45 p.m.

“Unless there is a change in fire conditions, the fire should be fully contained within the hour,” read an update on the city's Web site.

Once the fire is fully contained, officials will work to open roads and allow residents to return to their homes.
—Hannah Guzik

Update (3:44 p.m.):Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed a Conflagration Act at 12:52 p.m., which frees up state resources to help fight the fire.

The order provides state funding for fighting the blaze and also allows local fire officials to call on state agencies for help, said J Domis, spokesman for Jackson County.

“Essentially it's when the local resources are being tapped out and more help is needed outside the local area,” he said. “This will allow those state resources to flow uninhibited to the local agency to help.”

Electricity has been turned off in the evacuation zone and some surrounding areas, Domis said.

Pacific Power shut off power as a safety precaution.

“There's a fear of bound lines and electrocution hazards to people,” Domis said.

Meanwhile some firefighters and resources are being diverted to Medford where another fire has broken out near McAndrews Road and Roxy Ann Peak, he said.

“Now we're fighting on multiple fronts, which is always a challenge,” he said.

Domis reminded locals that the fire danger is extreme today, due to the high winds and heat.

“This is a great day to be proactive about fire prevention so that we don't have another fire,” he said.
—Hannah Guzik

Update (3:24 p.m.): Locations under mandatory evacuation order:

• Tolman Creek Road: addresses 1300 through 3530

• Morninglight Road: all addresses

• Timberlake Drive: all addresses

• Lupine Drive: addresses 2200, 2260 and 2285

• All streets south of Bellview Avenue

• Bellview Elementary School

(Information from the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center)

Two overnight shelters have been set up for fire evacuees.

Those displaced by the fire can go to First Baptist Church, 2004 Siskiyou Blvd., and the Oregon Army National Guard Armory, 1420 E. Main St. Cots will be set up at the evacuation shelters, county emergency response officials said.

Evacuees with large animals are being directed to the Jackson County Expo in Central Point. People with small animals are being advised to check with the shelters to see if they can stay there.

For more information on the shelters, call the Jackson County Emergency Operations Center at 776-7338.
—Hannah Guzik

Update (3:10 p.m.): About 108 homes are under a mandatory evacuation order in the Ashland hills near Tolman Creek Road as the fire continues to tear through the bone-dry brush.

Approximately 80 acres have burned so far, fire officials said.

Officials have ordered evacuations for homes above Siskiyou Boulevard on Tolman Creek Road, Bellview Avenue, Green Meadows Way, Morada Lane, Apple Way, Ranch Road and other surrounding streets.

Residents are being told to leave immediately.

A shelter for those displaced by the fire has not been set up, because officials are unsure whether one will be needed, said Lucy Edwards, Community Emergency Response Team coordinator with Ashland Fire & Rescue.

For more information, evacuees can visit CERT's command center at the intersection of Terra Avenue and Siskiyou Boulevard, Edwards said.

Anyone displaced by the fire can also come to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank to receive food, said Ann Marie Hutson, the president of the food bank. The food bank, located at 2200 Ashland St., is open from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. For more information call 488-9544.

If an emergency shelter is set up for evacuees, it will either be located at the Oregon Army National Guard Armory, 1420 E. Main St., or at the Jackson County Expo in Central Point, Edwards said.

It's unclear whether the evacuation orders will remain in effect through this evening, in which case a shelter might need to be set up, she said.

About 25 CERT volunteers are assisting with the evacuations and so far they have gone smoothly, Edwards said.

“I think generally people are doing an incredibly good job,” she said. “They're calm and they're thankful for the information.”

Some residents, however, are shaken by the evacuations and the pillars of smoke rising from the hills, Edwards.

“There have been one or two folks who have been very anxious,” she said.

Several locals have complained about the lack of information about the fire from officials. As of 2:30 p.m., the city's wildfire hotline had not been updated since 11 a.m.

In order to update the hotline, the line has to be free of calls — which has proved difficult as worried locals are consistently dialing the number, 552-2490, Edwards said.

Edwards acknowledged the difficulty in getting information to residents.

“Basically people want information at this time and it's so hard to get information because the people who have the information are fighting the fire,” she said.
—Hannah Guzik

Update (2:23 p.m.): As of 2 p.m., approximately 80 acres and one barn have been burned at this time. City of Ashland officials have called for evacuations of the following streets; Greenmeadow, Bellview, Morada Lane, Apple Way, Ranch Road and surrounding areas.

Update (2:15 p.m.) Bellview Elementary School and The Siskiyou School, both located on Tolman Creek Road, were evacuated early this afternoon due to the fast-moving brush fire in the hills directly above the schools.

Bellview will remain closed on Tuesday, according to an update on the district's Web site.

The students at Bellview were taken to Ashland Middle School, 100 Walker Ave., by district buses.

Parents of Bellview students are being asked to pick up their children at the middle school, in the commons area.

The Siskiyou School, a private elementary and middle school, asked parents to pick up their students beginning at lunchtime, and all students have now been picked up, said Catherine Razi, an administrator at the school.

School administrators are not planning close The Siskiyou School tomorrow.

Ashland Fire & Rescue did not order the early dismissal, Razi said.

“We did it just to be on the safe side of things,” she said.

— Hannah Guzik

Update (1:12 p.m.): A fast-moving fire has scorched between 30 and 50 acres on the southern edge of Ashland and filled the skies over town with thick smoke and hot ash.

Witnesses said homes and structures had burned, but fire officials didn't have details yet. The burnt remains of a home in the 1500 block of Tolman Creek could be seen.

“With hot debris in the smoke column, homes are still at risk,” Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou said.

The Rogue Valley Structural Task Force, a cooperative effort involving multiple fire departments, has been activated to protect buildings. Two air tankers are dropping fire retardant around the blaze and four or five helicopters are dumping water on it.

Fire officials warned people to stay away from the area to make way for the growing number of firefighters working in the area.

Siskiyou Boulevard is closed south of Tolman Creek Road and Tolman Creek Road is also closed at Siskiyou.

The northbound off-ramp at Interstate 5's exit 11 is closed, and transportation officials warned that heavy smoke could slow traffic on the freeway.

The fire broke out at mid-morning near the intersection of Siskiyou Boulevard and Crowson Road and swept into the hills, pushed by gusty winds out of the south east.

Ballou said homeowners on the south flank of the fire had been advised to leave. He said he was working closely with people living on the north side of the fire near Tolman Creek Road to keep them informed about risks.

Update (12:50 p.m.): As of 12:45 p.m., officials have called for evacuations from 1940 Tolman Creek Road and above.

CERT volunteers have been activated to Terra Base (Terra at Siskiyou) to assist with possible evacuation.

Update (12:14 p.m.): As of noon, City of Ashland Fire crews are requesting the evacuation of the 1400 block of Tolman Creek Road, and all of Timberlake Drive.

Update: (11 a.m.): Fire crews from around the valley are rushing to a reported blaze involving brush and a structure in the 3100 block of Siskiyou Boulevard in Ashland.

The fire was reported near the intersection of Crowson Road, said Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman Brian Ballou.

Engines from various firefighting agencies, two helicopters and a retardant bomber were all headed to the south end of Ashland to battle the blaze.