Northern California Fire Update: 7-11-08

Photo by Robin Birmingham

WIskeytown Closed

As the ever-expanding Motion Fire moved within the park’s boundary this morning, the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area was closed until further notice.

‘‘With all the fire activity from not only the Whiskeytown Fire but the Moon and Motion fires, we need to ensure visitor and firefighter safety by closing the park,’’ said Whiskeytown Superintendent Jim Milestone.

Highway 299 through the recreation area remains open to traffic, but motorists are warned to use caution.

The pull-outs along the highway also are closed.

The park’s visitors center, however, remains open.

Motion and Moon fires expand.

The catch-us-if-you-can Motion and Moon fires jumped in size Thursday as evacuation orders remained in effect for the western Shasta County communities threatened by the blazes.

The Motion Fire, which caused mandatory and advisory evacuations during a wild — and smoky — Wednesday night in the Shasta and Keswick areas, went from 9,208 acres to 12,015 acres Thursday and remained at 40 percent containment.By Thursday evening, no homes had been destroyed or damaged within the Motion Fire boundaries, said Mike Witesman, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman.

Air tankers and helicopters with water buckets attacked the fire as it burned northwest into steep and inaccessible terrain.

Cal Fire headquarters on Cypress Avenue received a lot of phone calls from worried residents in French Gulch, Shasta Lake and elsewhere as a plume of smoke rose before sunset Thursday, Cal Fire spokeswoman Cris Hartman said.

That sort of fire behavior is normal, Hartman said, along with the accompanying ash fallout.

“The Motion Fire is still doing a little spotting on the control lines and moving toward South Fork Lookout Mountain,” she said.

The fire continues to threaten a critical communications site, which includes radio transmitter, a cellular tower and communication systems used by Cal Fire and other public safety agencies.

The Moon Fire grew from about 20,000 acres to 25,529 acres Thursday. That fire also was 40 percent contained.

The two blazes continued to prove difficult to harness as firefighters fought them on the ground and from the air.

“The game plan is to continue working on those lines and hold any movement, especially the Motion Fire,” Hartman said.

The Moon Fire was slowly moving to the south and east Thursday and again potentially threatening the Igo-Ono area, where earlier mandatory and advisory evacuation orders remained in effect.

But Witesman said Thursday afternoon it appeared that the Moon Fire’s southward spread had been stopped, though it was still active west of Ono and Rainbow Lake and north of Rainbow Lake Road.

Still, he remained optimistic.

“They seem to be holding that fairly well,” he said of firefighters, noting that nine helicopters aggressively attacked the fire throughout the day. “They have been cooling down all the hot spots.”

People looking for places to keep their livestock and pets out of the fire zones can call Cal Fire for locations. Hartman also wants to hear from people who are willing to board animals.

Meanwhile, a Shasta County sheriff’s office spokeswoman said Thursday that its emergency broadcast notification system was back in operation after it failed Wednesday when a bulldozer ran over and damaged a conduit.

The two fires are part of the 66,115-acre Shasta-Trinity Lightning Complex, which has a 45 percent overall containment and also includes the 12,701-acre Deerlick Fire near Platina.

The story was a little different in Trinity County, where a mandatory evacuation order was issued Thursday afternoon for an area northwest of Hyampom because of the spreading Grouse Fire, said a spokeswoman with the Trinity County Sheriff’s Department.

Residents were being urged to go to the Hyampom Community Center as an evacuation center was established.

The evacuation order, which was issued about 3 p.m., covers an area starting from Manzanita Ranch Road to west of the South Fork of the Trinity River to the Big Slide Campground, spokeswoman Lynn Ward said.

The evacuated area also extends from the campground west to the Trinity and Humboldt county line and then north back to Manzanita Ranch Road, she said.

Here’s a rundown of blazes burning in the north state as of Thursday.

Whiskeytown Fire Complex:

The Whiskeytown Fire Complex, which was half contained, grew from 5,300 acres to 5,500 acres. Meanwhile, the Moon Fire continued to encroach onto the park’s southeast side. Park officials have closed that area south of Whiskeytown Lake, not including the visitors center, and also have canceled all ranger-guided programs until further notice.

Iron Complex:

The six active fires in this complex of 16 original fires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest west of Junction City went to 30,745 acres and the complex was 48 percent contained.

Lime Complex:

The 36 active fires in a series of 70 original fires near Hyampom, Hayfork and Platina were at 53,418 acres with 64 percent containment.

The California National Guard is expected to arrive this weekend to pitch in.


As the Motion Fire swept through the hills west of Redding, mandatory evacuations were issued late this morning in the French Gulch area, while an advisory evacuation order was announced for residents in the historic town of Shasta.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for American Mine Road and Cline Gulch Road in the French Gulch area, as well as Grizzly Gulch Road, which is off Highway 299 east of French Gulch between Merry and Mad Mule mountains.

In addition, an advisory evacuation was issued for Iron Mountain Road from Highway 299 to the intersection of Rock Creek Road in the Shasta and Keswick areas, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.




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