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Resources rushed to 2 new Oregon wildfires

By JEFF BARNARD
Of the Associated Press

GRANTS PASS — Bulldozer crews are building fire line to protect some scattered homes along the Rogue River west of Grants Pass after a fast-moving wildfire erupted over the weekend.

Fire spokesman Scott Blower said Monday the fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest about 10 miles west of Grants Pass had about 5 miles to go before reaching a group of homes in the Picket Creek area, where Josephine County has warned residents to be ready to leave.

More crews and equipment were dispatched to fight the fire, which was mapped overnight at nearly 2,000 acres. The cause was under investigation, but there were no reports of lightning over the weekend, making it likely it was human-caused.

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EARLIER STORY: Two wildfires that started over the weekend were threatening scattered rural homes in western Oregon, where forests are critically dry and the weather is hot.

A fire on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest 15 miles west of Grants Pass grew to nearly 2,000 acres as of Monday. Residents of 10 homes along the Rogue River have been told to be ready to evacuate.

A fire 10 miles east of Estacada on the Mount Hood National Forest is nearly 2,500 acres.

Spokeswoman Carol Connolly says 20 residents of an RV park were evacuated, and residents of six homes have been warned to start getting ready to leave.

She says initial reports indicate someone target-shooting caused the fire.

There's no word yet on what caused the fire near Grants Pass.

Four large air tankers flew repeated sorties Sunday on the blaze near Grants Pass, particularly around the top of Onion Mountain, where a U.S. Forest Service lookout and communications towers are located. Forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons said the threat has diminished.

On Monday, firefighters focused on building bulldozer line along the northeast flank of the fire to stop its spread.

Meanwhile, Connolly says more crews and equipment were pouring in to fight the fire and there was no containment. Weather forecasts warned of lightning in southwestern Oregon on Monday, with temperatures cooling Tuesday and rain and lightning possible by Wednesday.

More crews and equipment also were headed for the fire outside Estacada, where incident commanders expect full containment by mid-October.

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