Light rain falling over southwestern Oregon helped crews stop an explosive burst of a wildfire threatening scattered homes on the outskirts of Shady Cove, reports The Associated Press.
Fire spokesman Don Hickman said a thunderstorm blowing over the Rogue River Drive Fire Tuesday afternoon blew it out of containment lines. Eight helicopters lined up to dip water from the Rogue River one after the other, three air tankers dropped pink loads of fire retardant, and bulldozers cut fire lines to protect homes and head off the advancing flames.
By Wednesday morning the rain and cool temperatures had calmed down the fire, and none of the 130 homes and outbuildings that had been threatened was lost, the Oregon Department of Forestry reported.
“They’re probably doing the happy dance right now,” said Hickman.
Elsewhere in Oregon, the command team on the Oregon Gulch Fire — which had burned six homes in the Siskiyou Mountains 15 miles east of Ashland and was once Oregon’s largest at 55 square miles — was turning over final mop-up to local authorities.
In the Columbia Gorge, the Rowena Fire was 100 percent contained after burning one house last week west of The Dalles.
Overall, Oregon still had 12 large fires burning across 450 square miles of timber, brush and grass. Four of them were 60 percent contained or more. Two grass fires sparked by lighting in Gilliam County had not expanded.
Meanwhile, thunderstorms moved across the Cascade Range into central Oregon and eastern Washington. Forecasters reported that the threat of lightning would diminish over the next three days and moister air would reduce the potential for big new fires.