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Oregon Fire Grows to 308,000 Acres

August 10, 2002

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) _ The nation’s largest active wildfire has grown to 308,000 acres, coming within 3,000 acres of becoming the biggest fire in Oregon’s history.

The blaze, in the Siskiyou National Forest and adjoining lands in southwestern Oregon and Northern California, was close to surpassing a 1933 wildfire in northwest Oregon.

The wildfire had at one point threatened about 17,000 people in several small towns in the Illinois Valley. The threat has eased, but the fire still threatened the community of Agness in the Rogue River Canyon and an area near the small coastal town of Brookings.

Sheriff’s deputies Friday were asking some Brookings-area residents to prepare to leave their homes immediately if notified. The fire was 15 percent contained.

The National Fire Information Center reports 5 million acres have burned in the country this year, including more than 715,000 acres in Oregon. U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth said the fires have cost $325 million to fight.

Elsewhere, portions of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado reopened to the public Friday, 10 days after a wildfire near its best-known archaeological attractions forced it to close.

Areas closest to the 2,601-acre fire, including the museum, the library and two cliff dwellings, remain closed. Park Superintendent Larry Wiese said helicopters were still dousing hot spots, and fire crews were still cleaning up.

The fire scorched a wall of one archaeological feature, but did no damage to any other park ruins.

East of San Diego, fire crews hoped to have a 61,550-acre wildfire burning across dry mountains fully contained by Sunday.

More than 3,200 people were fighting the Pines fire, which was 60 percent contained Friday. As firefighters began to get the upper hand, a voluntary evacuation was lifted for nearby communities that are home to about 1,200 people.

The fire has destroyed at least 35 homes, 106 barns and other outbuildings and 147 vehicles.

Meanwhile, a second wildfire broke out in rural eastern San Diego County on Friday and quickly scorched 350 acres, threatening about 60 homes.

Also Friday, a 500-acre blaze in California’s Napa County was 50 percent contained.

The blaze, which was started by a sparking gasoline lawnmower, had not damaged any structures or caused any injuries, authorities said. They expected to have it fully contained by Saturday afternoon.

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On the Net:

National Interagency Fire Center: http://www.nifc.gov

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