GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Crews made more progress Monday in battling Oregon's huge wildfire, fire-hardening containment lines designed to keep flames away from a hamlet that caters to Rogue River whitewater rafters and fishermen.
But after three weeks of the fire in their back yard, the roughly 150 residents of the community of Agness weren't ready to celebrate. They continued to thin trees and cut weeds and brush around their homes.
"Summer is lost to us all. There is no fun, no relaxing, and it's probably not going to change" until the fall rains come, said Deborah Crouse, the librarian in Agness.
The fire has grown to 448,857 acres -- two-thirds the size of Rhode Island -- since it began last month. It was 40 percent contained Monday.
Fire spokeswoman Rochelle Desser said firefighters will soon be shifting from the east side of the fire to the west side.
"We would not want to characterize things as all buttoned up yet, but things are looking very good," she said Monday.
On the west side, evacuation alerts remained in effect for Agness, nearby Oak Flat, the upper Pistol River drainage, and the Wilderness Retreat subdivision on the Chetco River.
However, the danger to those settlements diminished as containment lines grew and burnout operations continued, officials said.
The blaze is the largest wildfire in Oregon in a century and the largest now burning in North America. More than 6,500 people were fighting it.
The flames have been eating through the forests of southwestern Oregon since July 13, when a lightning storm moved through the area. The fire has burned over much of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area in the Siskiyou National Forest and into northwestern California.
It was one of about two dozen major active fires burning in the West. More than 5.7 million acres have burned this summer, and New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Oregon have suffered their biggest wildfires on record, according to fire information officer Peter D'Aquanni.