Northern California Fire Update: 7-13-08


Motion Fire from Beltline

Mandatory evacuation orders issued for the 28,780-acre Moon Fire in the Igo-Ono area remained in effect Saturday for Devils Gap Drive, Rector Creek Road, Baker Ridge Road, Zogg Mine Road and its side roads, Galvan said.

But “everything else has been lifted in the Moon Fire,” which is 50 percent contained, she said.

Fire crews started burnouts Saturday in the Zogg Mine Road area north of Igo as a fire-control measure, Cal Fire spokesman Mike Witesman said.

The Motion Fire, which has grown to 18,350 acres, calmed considerably Saturday as firefighters continued to try to better contain it after gusty winds caused it to flare up Friday and spread toward homes on Benson Drive west of Keswick and toward the French Gulch area.

Mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect Saturday for the north end of Iron Mountain Road and Coram Ranch and Rock Creek Road, Benson Drive and Granite Drive, as well as their tributary streets, Galvan said.

Also under mandatory evacuations were South Fork Lookout Road north of Highway 299, Whiskey Creek Road north of Highway 299, Grizzly Gulch Road, Cline Gulch Road from Trinity Mountain Road to its end, American Mine Road and East Fork Road.

An advisory evacuation notice also remained in effect for the communities of Keswick and Shasta north of Highway 299.

The Motion Fire, which is about 40 percent contained and lived up to its name Friday, caused the closure of Highway 299 from Redding to Trinity County.

The highway was reopened early Saturday, but it is subject to intermittent closures as firefighters may light backfires near Whiskeytown Lake.

The Motion Fire also forced the closure of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, which remained closed to the public Saturday. It is not known when the park, which is also plagued by the 6,240-acre Whiskeytown Complex, might be reopened. The complex improved to 60 percent containment.

In Trinity County, a series of fires west of Junction City that have grown to 38,981 acres as of Saturday remained dangerously stubborn, especially the 6,669-acre Cedar Fire, a Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokesman said.

Residents of Cedar Flat and Friederich Road in Trinity County were told Saturday night to evacuate because of the Cedar Fire.

The mandatory order was issued about 8:30 p.m., spokesman Steve Ritchie said.

The Cedar Fire, which is part of the Iron Complex, was growing in three directions, threatening homes, power lines and community water systems as firefighters continued to try to construct containment lines, he said.

In addition, he said, the 10,027-acre Eagle Fire, which is 50 percent contained and about four miles west of Junction City, is a potential threat to that community.

A spot fire, he said, established itself Friday in Connor Creek and encroached on a fire line.

Ritchie said that no advisory or mandatory evacuation orders had been issued for the Junction City area, but the fire remains worrisome.

“It’s a potential threat,” he said.

Wildfires have scorched more than 114,000 acres in Trinity County since the lightning-sparked fires began June 21.

The Iron Complex includes the 12,687-acre Ironside Fire, which is 90 percent contained, and has the potential to force Highway 299 closures because of spot fires, burning debris and falling trees. That fire, he said, runs along more than five miles of Highway 299.

But also especially troubling is the Lime Complex, a series of fires near Hyampom, Hayfork and Platina. That terrain-driven fire complex grew more than 17,000 acres Friday to 76,663, Ritchie said, adding that it’s 58 percent contained.

California National Guard troops have arrived there for firefighting training and are expected to begin helping firefighters Monday.

Earlier in the week, an off-duty contracted firefighter from Klamath Falls, Ore., drowned in the Trinity River at Willow Creek at the Trinity and Humboldt county line during a break from fighting the Hell’s Half Complex in the Six Rivers National Forest.

Witnesses have said that the firefighter, identified as John Hermo, 33, was swimming across the river Monday in a T-shirt and fire-resistant pants when he apparently went under after getting caught in the current and was carried downriver. His body was recovered about 20 minutes later.

A public memorial service was held for him Thursday in Willow Creek.

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

The Iron Complex:

The six active fires in this complex of 16 original fires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest west of Junction City was at 38,981 acres and the complex was 44 percent contained. All U.S. Forest Service roads and trails in the area of the 6,669-acre Cedar Fire have been closed until Sept. 11.

The Eagle Fire was at 10,027 acres and 50 percent containment. The Zeigler Fire is at 1,901 acres and 85 percent containment. The Buckhorn Fire went to 6,272 acres with 25 percent containment. The Ironside Fire remained at 12,687 acres with 90 percent containment. The Denny Fire remained at 43 acres with 85 percent containment.

The Lime Complex:

The 45 active fires in the Lime Complex near Hyampom, Hayfork and Platina stayed at 76,663 acres with 58 percent containment. The Miners Fire was at 9,075 acres with 53 percent containment. The Lime Fire was burning 12,055 acres and was at 45 percent containment. The Iron-Harvey Fire was at 19,280 acres and 25 percent contained. The Noble Fire was at 12,870 acres and fully contained. The Trough Fire was at 3,505 acres and 55 percent contained. The Yellow Fire was at 9,505 acres, but there was no containment estimate. The Wilderness Fire was at 9,225 acres with zero containment. The Slides Fire was at 1,370 acres with no containment estimate. The Grouse Fire was at 680 acres.

The Alps Complex:

Three active fires are burning in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The total fire acreage was at 1,221. The Granite Fire was at 542 acres and 80 percent contained. The Carey Fire was at 567 acres and 30 percent contained. The Rip Fire, being handled by eight smoke jumpers, was at 3 acres and 70 percent contained.

The Siskiyou Complex:

The three fires in the complex that’s near Happy Camp on the Klamath National Forest were about 26,200 acres and 34 percent contained. Steep and inaccessible terrain continues to hamper containment efforts and the fire is threatening significant Karuk and Yurok tribal cultural and religious sites, a spokeswoman said.

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