Updated 6:45 p.m. Tracie Gibson, a resident at Fall Creek Ranch, said, "Everybody is evacuating. They're asking everybody to leave at this point. They're trying to save lives more than anything right now. They're dumping water trying to save what they can, but it's moving pretty fast." She said residents were initially told to evacuate to Fall Creek Ranch, but at this point, residents are being told to evacuate into California. Fire has grown to 3,000 acres, Oregon Department of Forestry officials say.
Updated 6:25 p.m. Officials have ordered the evacuation of homes in the 6000 block of Copco Road and south.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Department said in a news release at 6:14 p.m. that people in the area must leave now. Fall Creek Ranch, just south of the fire area, has been identified as a safe zone for people to gather.
Swirling winds from nearby thunderstorms have forced firefighters to pull back from the rapidly growing Oregon Gulch fire, which is burning in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported on its website, www.swofire.com, at 5:50 p.m.
The site estimates the fire at 1,700 acres.
Copco Road is closed at its intersection with Highway 66, just east of Pinehurst.
4:43 p.m. Oregon Department of Forestry fire crews are dropping water from helicopters to slow down the progress of a blaze near Oregon Gulch, located in the southeast corner of Jackson County in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
Officials reported the blaze was spreading fast, due to high winds in the area and abundant dry grasses. It was discovered this morning and had burned 450 to 500 acres by 4:30 p.m., Oregon Department of Forestry fire officials said.
Officials have warned Copco Road residents that they should be ready to leave in case the fire grows larger. This is called a level-one evacuation notice.
The fire is one of dozens peppering the Rogue Valley's surrounding hills after Wednesday night's lightning storm.
— Ryan Pfeil