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Showers Help Crews Tamp Down Oregon Wildfires

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File photo of a firefighter spraying water while fighting a fire near an Indian reservation. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

File photo of a firefighter spraying water while fighting a fire near an Indian reservation. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Unusual late-summer rains are helping crews battle wildfires in southwestern Oregon and the Columbia Gorge — and even driving some from soaked tents to bed down indoors.

Some firefighters at the Government Flats complex southwest of The Dalles reported leaky tents and wet bedding on Sunday, the Oregon Department of Forestry said.

They were given dry sleeping bags and moved indoors to sleep in the gym at Wahtonka High School, where the department observed in its daily fire summary Monday that the “floor may be harder, but it is dry and warm.”

The fire has destroyed four homes. It’s burning on about 19 square miles, or 12,000 acres.

The state agency says the cool, wet weather has helped the crews in the gorge, and the fires are considered 45 percent contained. Fire crews are being redeployed to other parts of the fire, demobilized or sent to another fire, the agency said.

In southwestern Oregon, rain on Sunday amounted to about a third of an inch in Medford, and slightly more than that in Ashland.

Fire officials told the Medford Mail Tribune (http://bit.ly/1aInv84) the rains provided at least a short-term improvement in air quality, too.

Fire crews say the Douglas Complex of fires north of Grants Pass is now nearly 90 percent contained. It’s burned through more than 76 square miles — about 48,000 acres.

A Hotshot crew floated down the Rogue River over the weekend to help establish a stronger line on the Big Windy complex, 25 miles northwest of Grants Pass. It’s considered 35 percent contained and has burned through about 37 square miles, about half the size of the Douglas Complex.

 

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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