Wildfire nearly quadruples in size, triggers evacuations in rural Josephine County

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A helicopter flies over plumes of smoke in a heavily forested area.

The Rum Creek Fire burning in rural Josephine County, Ore., on Aug. 27, 2022.

Oregon Department of Forestry

A wildfire burning in rural Josephine County triggered evacuation alerts early Saturday morning.

The Rum Creek Fire grew from about 1,200 acres Friday night to over 4,700 acres in a matter of hours. It’s burning near the unincorporated communities of Galice and Rand, about 20 miles northwest of Grants Pass.

Local emergency officials issued “go now” evacuations and lower-level evacuation alerts for homes near the fire. The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office is maintaining a digital evacuation map here.

Gov. Kate Brown invoked an emergency conflagration order Saturday morning in response to the Rum Creek Fire. The declaration allows the Oregon State Fire Marshal to take unified command. The Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District on Facebook explained that sudden winds caused it to grow and pushed it toward more residential areas.

The fire was started by lightning on Aug. 17 and killed Logan Taylor, a 25-year-old firefighter, after he was struck by a tree the next day. Brown has ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff on Monday in honor of Taylor, with his memorial service to be held the same day.

The county fairgrounds in Grants Pass has been designated as an evacuation shelter, with space for people, their pets and livestock.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.