CAVE JUNCTION, Ore. -- As the Illinois Valley remembers the 2002 Biscuit Fire, firefighters see a lot of similarities between the 2002 fire season and the 2012 season.
The U.S. Forest Service compared 2002 with 2012 and said there is one main difference. While the fire years have shaped up in similar ways, this year’s wet spring kept grass and fuels from drying out in June.
“Right now, locally, our burning indexes are on our scale at a 33 percentile,” said Paul Galloway, with the U.S. Forest Service. “When Biscuit started, it was at 54. Burning conditions are not really as ripe as they were in 2002.”
Fire managers said the chances of the burning indexes increasing are good, especially as the Rogue and Illinois Valleys experience strings of 90 degree days.
There is also the issue of fuel on the ground. Illinois Valley Fire District Capt. Joe Feldhaus said there is a lot of standing fuel and it is ready to.
"It could get real ugly if you got the same scenario as last time," he said.
But the similarities go beyond burning indexes.
“(The) 2002 fire season was a lot like this one starting out,” said Tom Zulliger, a captain with the Illinois Valley Fire District. “You know, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado were all burning up and resources were really stretched.”
The year the Biscuit Fire threatened the Illinois Valley, local firefighters had been called to other states to help with fires there. The staffing situation was similar to the one this year.
This week, the Oregon of Department of Forestry announced that three employees from the Medford officer were in central Oregon to fight the large fires there.
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