Fire Update: Northern California 6-28-08


looking west from Round Mtn.

Ferocious fires forced evacuations near Ono on Friday as afternoon temperatures near the blazes vaulted to 107 degrees under sullen, smoky skies.

Authorities ordered 75 to 100 households out of their homes in the Rainbow Lake area just west of Ono as the Deerlick Fire began chewing through timber and brush stands on nearby mountainsides. Shasta County Sheriff’s Office deputies were unable to give a precise number of evacuees.

And the Motion Fire near Shasta Dam, which had nearly doubled in size by Friday morning, forced a couple more households out of their homes as it merged with the Democrat Fire burning north of the town of Keswick.

Fire officials already grappling with getting crews into steep terrain dread the weekend, when weather could undo the steady progress made.

Forecasters expect thunderstorms to build over the northern Sierras and drift toward the interior Coast Range this afternoon. These thunderstorms could destabilize the atmosphere and vent the fires, encouraging them to burn more intensely, officials fear.

“When you have thunderstorms, you may have lightning, and you may have wind,” said Mike Witesman, a volunteer spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “But you always have wind, and that’s a firefighter’s nemesis.”

Fires have consumed roughly 35,000 acres in Shasta County outside the national forests since lightning touched off more than 150 blazes last Saturday. Another 35,000 acres were ablaze in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, and 15,000 more acres are burning in Tehama County. Fires in far western Siskiyou County have grown to 5,000 acres, and nearly 7,500 acres have been blackened in far eastern Shasta County. All told, nearly 100,000 acres have gone up in smoke so far in the north state this week.

Yet Cal Fire in Shasta County has reported progress among the growing and amalgamating blazes. Crews have contained 88 of the 158 fires, Witesman said. Agencies from across the state had marshaled 1,419 firefighters with three injuries so far, Witesman said. The firefighting force has nearly tripled since Tuesday. These crews have attacked flames with 158 engines, 39 bulldozers, 81 water tenders and a couple of National Guard helicopters.

“We’re starting to get to the place where we have the resources we need,” Witesman said.

Fires have damaged three buildings and destroyed two. Witesman could not say where, or what, those buildings were as of Friday evening.

Here is a list of the fires burning Friday around the north state. Spokespersons from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, the Southern Area Incident Management Team, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the National Parks Service provided this information:

Venture Fire:

This blaze held at 1,500 acres and was 75 percent contained. No structures were burned and no injuries were reported.

Withrow Fire:

This fire north of Shingletown near Withrow and One Hundred roads grew slightly to 600 acres. Firefighters claimed 80 percent containment.

Kirkman Fire:

This fire off Highway 44 near Dersch Road was holding at 2,500 acres and was fully contained. No structures were lost.

Deerlick Fire:

This fire west of Ono exploded to 8,000 acres and forced as many as 100 evacuations near Rainbow Lake. There was no containment.

Other Ono fires:

The Little Valley Fire had burned up 150 acres, with no containment. The Duckett Fire charred 300 acres, with no containment.

Deck Fire:

The blaze sparked up Thursday and was burning 200 acres of grass and brush between Igo and Ono. The fire was fully contained Friday.

Pine Fire:

This fire, formerly called the Backbone Ridge Fire, merged with the Donkey Mine fire south of Highway 299.

Donkey Mine:

This blaze south of Highway 299 and west of Oak Run Road grew slightly to 650 acres before merging with the Pine Fire on Backbone Ridge north of Highway 299. The merged fire was listed at 60 percent contained.

Democrat Fire:

This fire consuming brush and timber north of Keswick merged Friday with the massive Motion Fire to the north, forming a 12,000-acre burn. Containment for both fires was listed at 20 percent

Zogg Mine Fire:

This fire in the Igo-Ono area was still listed as 80 percent contained at 74 acres. No structures had been lost. However, several spot fires continued burning nearby on steep mountainsides.

Motion Fire:

This fire west of Shasta Dam did not grow much Friday after doubling to more than 11,000 acres by late Thursday. The Motion Fire forced evacuations of a couple of households south of the dam on the west side of the Sacramento River.

Moon Fire:

This blaze had consumed 2,000 acres near Paradise Peak southwest of Redding. The fire was 20 percent contained Friday, up from no containment Thursday.

Barley Fire:

This fire in southwest Shasta County held at 1,000 acres in the Graves Ranch area. It was 5 percent contained.

Little Fire:

The fire burned 50 acres near Whitmore and was 60 percent contained Friday.

Stein Fire:

Flames had charred 660 acres near the Pit River arm of Lake Shasta, north of the Pine Fire. It was 60 percent contained Friday.

Upper and Lower Grass Valley fires:

The Upper Grass Valley Fire near Buckhorn Summit had burned 150 acres, with no containment. The Lower Grass Valley Fire had blackened 200 acres, with no containment.

Brown Fire:

Crews held this fire, which was threatening 15 buildings north of Weaverville. It was downgraded to 100 acres and was fully contained. It’s unknown if any structures were damaged.

Whiskeytown Complex:

Four wildfires on Shasta Bally had charred 3,600 acres and threatened power lines that feed communication towers atop the mountain, including those for emergency agencies in Shasta County.

Park officials cleared the Oak Bottom Campground to make room for a fire camp. The public boat launch also was closed. However, the Oak Bottom Marina remained open.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger got a briefing Friday on the fire at Whiskeytown and discussed his plans to seek federal aid for firefighting efforts throughout Northern California. The state of Maryland on Friday dispatched nine wildfire experts to Whiskeytown, where they will advise local officials.

Go to http://www.nps.gov/whis for updated information on the Whiskeytown fires.

Peterson Complex:

The Popcorn and Peterson fires southwest of McArthur in eastern Shasta County merged Thursday into a single 7,480-acre blaze called the Peterson Complex. The fire was 45 percent contained on Friday, the Southern Area Incident Management Team reported.

Authorities had not ordered evacuations of 160 residents in Little Valley in Lassen County, though voluntary evacuation was in place.

Lime Complex:

The Lime Complex in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest had consumed 22,195 acres and was 15 percent contained Friday. The complex as a whole was nearly twice as large as it was Thursday. Some 765 firefighters were battling this group of 80 fires — with some as large as 4,000 acres — burning west of Hayfork and south of Hyampom. The Noble and Telephone fires forced closures of Highway 36 from 15 miles east of Platina to Highway 3. Hyampom may be threatened should the fires keep spreading. The costs of fighting the Lime Complex were pegged at $4.1 million. The Lime Complex command post sits in Hayfork.

Iron Complex:

The 606 firefighters battling this group of 21 blazes in northeastern Trinity County kept them from spreading much over the past 24 hours after the fires nearly tripled in size Wednesday. Total acreage burned was estimated at 10,700 acres Friday. The complex’s fire acreage decreased from 12,500 acres because several fires in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area amounting to about 2,000 acres were transferred to another management team.

Crews were trying to keep the Ziegler Fire out of Hawkins Bar. Firefighters are coordinating their efforts from a command post in Junction City. Estimated firefighting costs so far on the Iron Complex are $2.1 million.

SHF June Lightning Complex

Crews had contained 27 of the 29 fires in the group. The Murphy and Rey fires are still going.

Siskiyou Complex:

The burn area grew to 5,000 acres in rugged terrain in far western Siskiyou County. Authorities kept Highway 96 closed to motorists where Dillon Creek flows into the Klamath River some 30 miles south of Happy Camp. Smoldering logs and boulders in vegetation burning directly above the highway were rolling onto the pavement and falling into the river.

Tehama County:

Crews made some headway Friday against wildfires burning in difficult terrain in the Ishi Wilderness northeast of Red Bluff.

Firefighters held the Antelope Creek fire to 3,000 acres. The blaze was 60 percent contained.

The Mill Fire also grew a little Friday, when officials estimated burned acreage at 11,460. The Mill Fire was 40 percent contained.

West of Red Bluff, the Noble Fire burning out of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest threatened some 60 homes and cabins along Ball Road. That blaze had spawned spot fires that had consumed 1,400 acres in northwestern Tehama County.

Map of California fires (pdf)

Latest Available Update: 6-30-08

Update 7-2-08

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