S. Ore. grass fire threatens homes

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ROGUE RIVER, Ore. (AP) -- An Oregon Department of Forestry spokesman says a fast-moving wildfire has raced across 300 acres of grass and brush in southern Oregon near Rogue River, threatening at least 40 homes and briefly closing northbound lanes of Interstate 5.

Spokesman Brian Ballou says four helicopters dropped water on the flames before darkness fell Thursday night, helping to protect homes. About 200 firefighters and two air tankers fought the North River Road Fire as well. Ballou said he wasn't aware of any homes that had burned although he believed some outbuildings did. No injuries have been reported.

A Jackson County sheriff's spokeswoman says more than 50 deputies and search and rescue volunteers are helping with voluntary evacuations and roadblocks. Spokeswoman Andrea Carlson said Thursday evening that at least six families had left their homes.

Crews also helped evacuate animals.

Ballou says ground crews and bulldozers are working through the night to build fire lines.

Oregon highway officials say a 10-mile stretch of northbound I-5 was closed for about an hour late Thursday afternoon.