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Humidity Helps Fire Crews in Oregon

August 21, 2002

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) _ High humidity and lighter wind helped firefighters make progress during the night against the huge fire in southwest Oregon.

``The fire is looking really good right now,″ said Jean Schaeppi, a fire spokesman with the National Park Service. ``We didn’t have any active fire last night, just some smoldering of the trees.″

Residents of the community of Agness were allowed to return home Tuesday after getting a scare when a spot fire erupted near there Monday.

``We’re a little shaken,″ said Willis Crouse, a fishing guide, who had stayed to watch over his home. ``It was quite a show.″

Overall, the fire was 50 percent contained, and officials said Wednesday they had only 33 more miles of fireline to complete on the fire’s active western flank. It has burned more than 489,200 acres since it was started by lightning July 13.

The blaze, burning in the Siskiyou National Forest, is the biggest to hit Oregon in more than a century. Fighting it has cost $84.5 million.

Elsewhere, a fire just four miles north of Mount Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota was 45 percent contained Wednesday, fire officials said. That blaze had blackened 11,200 acres.

Authorities suspect it was man-caused, but Black Hills National Forest Supervisor John Twiss would not say if investigators were focusing on arson or an accidental cause.

The fire had destroyed three homes and National Guard Maj. Mark Johnston said about 200 residents had been evacuated since the blaze began Friday.

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On the Net:

Biscuit Fire (Oregon fire) Web site: http://www.biscuitfire.com/

Northwest Interagency Coordination Center: http://www.or.blm.gov/nwcc/

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