"The fire hasn't blown up," fire spokesman Dick Fleishman said Thursday. "But it's progressing that way, and the sheriff thought it would be safer to evacuate during the day than at night."
Wildfire crews specially trained to protect homes and buildings headed to the western edge of the Biscuit fire, which has burned more than 396,000 acres (160,259 hectares). Firefighters were also working on a 50,000-acre (20,235-hectare) burnout operation to keep the fire from driving into the Rogue River Canyon, east of Grants Pass.
In Colorado, a ranch, a lodge and a campground were evacuated near the ski resort of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, after a 5-week-old fire flared up and threatened 50 structures. A helicopter rescued five hikers from the path of a 1,700-acre (688-hectare) blaze.
Three helicopters and two hand crews were battling the 600-acre (243-hectare) blaze in the Flattops Wilderness Area, 34 miles (55 kilometers) southwest of Steamboat Springs. The fire was sparked by lightning July 8 but had been allowed to burn because it was in a wilderness area.
Northeast of Steamboat Springs, a wildfire grew to 1,700 acres (688 hectares) Thursday near a patch of trees. A helicopter picked up five hikers in the path of the blaze, Helmerick said.
Winds of up to 30 mph and hotter temperatures were expected Friday.
"It could get real interesting," Helmerick said. "There's a lot of timber to burn there."
The Oregon fire, sparked by lightning, has been burning in the Siskiyou National Forest since July 13. Nearly 6,500 people were fighting the blaze, which was 28 percent contained Thursday.
Across the West, 20 large active fires had charred more than 1.1 million acres in eight states.
In Riverside, California, a 16-year-old boy was arrested Thursday for investigation of causing a 500-acre (202-hectare) brush fire last weekend.
The fire, which threatened homes in the Calimesa area, began Sunday and was contained after four days at a cost of more than $1.5 million.