Deer Creek Fire Burns at Least Four Homes in Southern Oregon

SELMA, Ore. (AP) -- A fast-moving wildfire burned at least four homes Thursday in a rural area of southwest Oregon.

The Deer Creek fire, which began Thursday afternoon, had burned at least 1,500 acres of dense forest mixed with homes a few miles east of the rural community of Selma, said Illinois Valley Fire District spokeswoman Sandy Humphfries.

Residents of 30 to 40 homes in the area were urged to evacuate. About 200 firefighters, four air tankers, four bulldozers and three helicopters were battling the blaze.

Chip Warner and his wife, Suzie, stood at an intersection and watched as the fire burned up Crook's Creek toward their home.

''My wife grabbed what she could before they evacuated her,'' said Chip Warner, a construction worker who once served as a volunteer firefighter. ''The black smoke means a structure fire. Look at that puff of black smoke. That's right in our neck of the woods.''

Warner said he and his wife have spent the last four years thinning the woods on their 10-acre property.

''When you live in the sticks, it's always an issue, but you don't expect it to happen to you,'' he added.

The Deer Creek fire was burning a few miles south of U.S. Highway 199, and several miles from the massive 2002 Biscuit fire, which burned 500,000 acres and threatened 17,000 residents of the Illinois Valley.

Illinois Valley Fire Chief Harry Rich said the cause of the Deer Creek fire was under investigation.