Northern California Fire Update: 7-5-08

Martin Mars

Redding-area residents likely will see plumes of smoke rising near Shasta Dam today as firefighters intend to set a backfire that could consume thousands of acres.

The purpose is to stop the spread of the Motion Fire, which was at 16,700 acres and 50 percent contained Friday night, said spokesman Mike Witesman of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Crews built fire lines Friday in preparation for this morning’s backfire between ridgetops about a mile to a mile and a half northwest of the dam.

“It will create smoke without question,” Witesman said. “There will be a great number of resources on the lines if there is some kind of problem,” he said.

The Martin Mars water bomber should be available, along with regular air tankers, for drops on the Motion Fire’s hot spots, Witesman said.

North state fire bosses put in a request to bring in the fast DC-10 jetliner that’s been converted to a retardant-dropping tanker for the Motion Fire, but its priority may remain on bigger fires burning south in Big Sur andSanta Barbara, Witesman said. Other factors behind today’s proposed controlled burn include keeping flames a safe distance from high-voltage lines carrying hydroelectric power down south and the safety of firefighters, who must get around boulders and shrubs in the Motion Fire.

The area is thick with manzanita, which was planted years ago to control the erosion of land left bare by smelters.

“It’s the only place I know of where anyone intentionally planted manzanita,” Witesman said.

Meanwhile, relatively clear skies Friday permitted air tankers out of Redding to make headway on the north state’s wildfires.

“It’s a real clear day out there today,” Shasta-Trinity National Forest fire information officer Steve Ritchie said Friday.

Improved visibility also allowed for better air reconnaissance, giving fire managers a closer look at the fires for more accurate mapping.

Here’s a look at fire conditions as updated Friday night by the Forest Service, Cal Fire and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area officials.

The Deerlick Complex:

This series of fires remained at 16,800 acres with containment still at 30 percent.

Progress was made on other fires in Shasta County. The Moon Complex stayed at 18,600 acres with 25 percent containment. The Lower Grass Valley Fire remained at 475 acres, but with full containment. The Democrat Fire also was at full containment.

Cal Fire’s burn total held steady at 53,600 acres. “Things are holding fairly well,” Witesman said.

The Iron Complex:

In the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, this series of 16 fires now includes the Buckhorn Fire, which combined with the Clem Fire. The Buckhorn blaze was up to 3,354 acres with 5 percent containment. There were six uncontained fires and 10 contained fires.

The complex grew by nearly 4,000 acres to 24,915 acres with 19 percent overall containment. Slow progress was reported because of steep terrain and difficult access.

The 7,290-acre Eagle Fire was 60 percent contained but had spread toward the south and west to threaten the Trinity County communities of Big Flat and Big Bar, where firefighters were preparing to protect structures.

The Cedar Fire grew to 989 acres with 15 percent containment. The Ironside Fire went up to 12,051 acres with 60 percent containment. The Zeigler Fire was up to 822 acres with 30 percent containment and was heading east. The 43-acre Denny Fire had zero containment.

The Lime Complex:

This group of 70 fires totaled 41,362 acres, but was up to 65 percent containment.

The Rainbow Fire was contained at 236 acres and headway was made on the Trough Fire, at 334 acres and 90 percent containment.

The Deadshot Fire was fully contained at 1,055 acres. The Lime Fire was at 8,536 acres and 51 percent containment. At 4,544 acres, the Miners Fire was 58 percent contained. The Noble Fire remained at 12,756 acres and 90 percent contained. The Slide Fire was reported at 1,547 acres and fully contained. The Telephone Fire was fully contained at 6,014 acres.

The Iron Fire was at 2,787 acres and 41 percent contained. The Wilderness Fire had no containment at 860 acres. The Deerlick Fire was at 15,500 acres, of which nearly 800 acres were inside the Lime Complex.

The Alps Complex:

This series of 11 fires went down to 708 acres because the Buckhorn Fire was transferred to the Iron Complex. Overall containment of the Alps fires was at 15 percent.

The priorities were the Granite Fire, at 441 acres and 50 percent containment, and the Carey Fire, at 200 acres and 5 percent contained.

Total forest fire acreage in the Shasta-Trinity forest stood at 66,985 with 52 active fires and 45 fires contained. The fires grew by 2,187 acres Friday.

Whiskeytown Complex:

Two active fires remain in the Shasta Bally area of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. The fires totaled 4,730 acres and were at 40 percent containment. Two helicopters were dropping buckets of water on South Fork Mountain. A total of 380 people were working on the fires, including 16 engines, 11 crews and one water tender.

6 Responses

  1. Y’all got a long haul to the rainy season.

  2. Yeah we do. But the lightening storm that came through here a few weeks ago was not normal for these parts. I suspect we will get through this and calm down for the rest of the season. (knock on wood)

  3. No way. When the excitement dies down, you’re going to have the firebugs out.

  4. The lightening storms are normal for us (grin).

  5. Well, the excitement won’t be dying down anytime soon.
    Record Heat This Week

    Spoke too soon, didn’t I?

  6. Nope, saw your record heat this morning. Our A/C went out on the afternoon of the third, and we just got it fixed last night. Luckily for us, the temperatures are actually below normal and have been diving down into the 60s at night.

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