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Oregon's 30-Mile Wall Of Flames

Crews torched brush and other potential fuel Thursday to try to keep two major wildfires from advancing toward homes in the Illinois Valley, CBS News Correspondent Stephan Kaufman reports. Nearly 1,000 area residents have left their houses, but most residents have choosen to stay put.

Major wildfires were burning on more than 438,610 acres in Oregon on Thursday, battled by nearly 13,000 firefighters.

Top priority was given to containing two blazes on the Siskiyou National Forest in southwestern Oregon that were less than two miles apart and were burning a total of 186,000 acres the Florence and Sour Biscuit fires.

Also high on commanders' priority list was the Timbered Rock fire about 20 miles north of Medford. It had burned about 20,000 acres, was 20 percent contained and was being battled by about 1,000 firefighters. Officials had urged the residents of 40 homes to evacuate.

Nearly 2,000 firefighters are trying to contain the Florence and Sour Biscuit fires.

About 950 residents of the Illinois Valley had evacuated their homes since Sunday and registered with the Red Cross, said Marj Jameson, executive director of the Rogue Valley chapter of the Red Cross.

"We have Red Cross volunteers coming from all over the United States to help us, from as far away as Florida and New York," she said.

But most of the area's 17,000 residents are so far staying put, hoping firefighters' will be able to starve the two fires of fuel and preventing their advance.

"We are still kind of holding our breath. The weather seems to be cooperating," Jameson said.

Firefighters' strategy was to torch off backfires along a 30-mile primary fire line, made of logging roads connected by swaths of bare earth carved by bulldozers, between the fire and several small towns.

Overnight, fire crews had burned about 1,600 acres along the fire line.

Fire commanders hope favorable winds will blow the intentionally set fires toward the main conflagration, depriving it of unburned fuel.

Firefighters have also been assessing homes to determine whether they can be defended, and cutting brush to help that effort.

"Pretty much, our work (the assessing) is done and we are waiting to see if the fire is going to come," said Tim Birr, spokesman for the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office.

So far, 90 percent of 300 Illinois River Valley homes assessed by firefighters have been deemed defensible against the fire, and crews continued to clear brush and volatile landscaping to improve their chances.

Bulldozers and hand crews and structural firefighters were working on the north end of the Florence fire, to protect the community of Agness, which is a center of white-water rafting river on the Rogue River.

Here are some of the other major wildfires that were burning Thursday in Oregon:

The Cache Mountain fire, burning on 4,200 acres 15 miles northwest of Sisters, has destroyed two homes but was 95 percent contained.

The Tiller Complex, east of Canyonville off Interstate 5, has burned 26,850 acres and was 25 percent contained.

The Toolbox Fire, which has scorched 86,794 acres in Lake County, was 75 percent contained.

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