Fire Investigators Confirm Bear Creek Greenway Fire Last Sunday Started in Transient Camp

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is investigating the cause of a fire that started last Sunday, August 28 on the Bear Creek Greenway at Dean Creek Road near I-5 exit 35 north of Central Point. Jackson County Fire District 3 (JCFD3) Fire Investigators confirmed the fire started in a transient camp along the Greenway and JCSO is investigating charges of reckless burning and criminal mischief. Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Southwest Oregon District and JCFD3 firefighters responded quickly and were able to stop the fire’s progress at four acres.  

The fire was contained thanks to the hard work of JCFD3 fire crews as well as ODF’s quick response with their air support helicopters. JCFD3 also confirmed that the fuel reduction efforts by Jackson County Roads and Parks Department helped keep the fire small. This burn site is in an area that was historically inundated with berries, making fire control very difficult.

Jackson County Board of Commissioners allocated funding for fuel reduction along the Bear Creek Greenway in 2021. The Roads and Parks Department has performed fuel reduction in a variety of areas along the Greenway. Work has included mowing dense thickets of invasive blackberries and hemlock, which burn hotter than native vegetation, along with treatment to prevent regrowth of the berries in and around the Almeda Fire footprint. 

“This fuel reduction effort contributed to the ability of JCFD3 and ODF to be able to keep the fire at only fouracres,” remarked Jackson County Roads and Parks Director, Steve Lambert. “We are proud of the work being done with our local partnerships to improve fire safety along the Greenway.”

A variety of partners from around the County are assisting the Roads and Parks Department to control invasive species along Bear Creek. These outside agencies includethe Rogue River Watershed Council, Rogue Valley Council of Governments, The Freshwater Trust, and Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, among others. 

This is an open and ongoing investigation and anyone with information can contact JCSO Deputy Strohmeyer at 541-531-7243.

News Release from Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office
photos credit JACO SO