Fire west of Junction City: 'It's very hot out and it's windy'

A helicopter drops water on the fire near High Pass Road. (Still from SBG video)

JUNCTION CITY, Ore. - Firefighters hit a wildfire off from the air and ground Thursday amidst dry conditions and near-record heat.

Crews responded to the fire off High Pass Road about 12 miles west of Junction City at 4 a.m.

Smoke could be seen rising from the foothills of the Coast Range as helicopters dropped water on the fire.

An air tanker assisted by making several retardant drops.

"The helicopters this morning with the water buckets, that was one thing," said Mike Burns, who lives near the fire, "but when you see a plane dropping retardant, then that's a little unnerving."

The fire started out small, estimated at about 3 acres.

"Midmorning we upgraded it to 7 acres, and once the heat of the day and winds picked up, we understand that it grew approximately 10 then up to 25," said Crystal Riley with Junction City Fire. "That's the progression of the reports I've been getting from down here."

By 4:30 p.m., the fire was estimated at 50 acres.

The Oregon Department of Forestry said as of 5 p.m. evacuations are not necessary.

But Lane County closed High Pass Road from milepost 9 to Horton Road at 1:30 p.m., until further notice.

With a Red Flag Warning in effect, a forest fire was the last thing firefighters and residents wanted to see.

"It's very hot out and it's windy, so the danger of fatigue dehydration and then the winds move the fire unpredictably," Riley said.

Burns saw the smoke as he drove home from Eugene on Thursday.

"I went home and let my wife and kids know that there was a fire up above us and, you know, kind of prepped for potential evacuation or whatever," he said. "You never know which way the winds blowing or anything like that."

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