Northern California Fire Update: 7-14-08

The Scoop

Firefighters on Sunday got some help from the air and a few extra hands on the ground to fight the north state fires.

Although the blazes forced road closures on Highway 299 for much of the day, those living in Ono and the French Gulch areas were allowed to return to their homes, while new evacuations were ordered in Trinity County.

The Martin Mars air tanker also returned to the north state after being diverted on July 8 to the Big Sur area.

It landed on Lake Shasta about 2 p.m. but won’t begin fighting fires until today because its support vehicles hadn’t arrived, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Steve Ritchie.

Owned by the Canadian company, Coulson Flying Tankers, the 162,000-pound Martin Mars was built in 1946 and was converted in 1959 to carry 7,200 gallons of water and fire-dousing gel in its hold.

On the ground, firefighters battling the Lime Complex in Trinity County got some help from National Guard troops.

Troops from “Task Force Pick” today joined the battle against the 76,663-acre blazes near Hyampom, Hayfork and Platina, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

The task force trained on the Telephone Fire on Sunday and were expected to deploy to fight other fires today.

Meanwhile, the Motion Fire forced the closure of Highway 299 on noon Sunday from Buenaventura Boulevard to the Buckhorn Summit in Trinity County because of fire activity.

The highway was reopened to one-way traffic at 7:30 p.m.

California Department of Transportation officials say the highway will stay open to one-way traffic until 11 a.m. today, at which point it will be closed again to both lanes of traffic.

The highway will stay closed until 9 p.m. as firefighters burn vegetation in the fire’s path with a helicopter that is fitted with a torchlike device, a Caltrans spokesman said.

The burnouts from the so-called “helitorch” will take place from Rock Creek to Whiskey Creek roads, he said.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area remained closed to the public.

Here’s a roundup of fire activity based on information provided throughout the day Sunday by spokespeople from the U.S. Forest Service, National Parks Service, Trinity County and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Shasta-Trinity Lightning Complex:

A total of 77,510 acres have burned in this complex of fires. The cost increased by $100,000 Sunday bringing the total to $34.4 million.

Residents in the Shasta area remained under evacuation Sunday as they had been since earlier in the week. But residents in French Gulch were allowed home Sunday afternoon, as were residents in Ono threatened by the Moon Fire.

The Motion Fire, at 20,116 acres and 50 percent contained, continued to threaten homes north of Highway 299 almost to Shasta Dam. Still under evacuation were Granite Drive, Benson Drive, Rock Creek and Whiskey Creek roads.

French Gulch residents living on Cline Gulch, American Mine, Drunken Gulch, East Fork and Trinity Mountain roads were allowed back in.

The Moon Fire has burned 28,823 acres and is 75 percent contained. Evacuations for all residents threatened by the Moon Fire were lifted on Sunday.

Sunday’s controlled burns on the Motion Fire, from the Benson Drive area along Highway 299 to the Whiskey Creek inlet, successfully cleared a much-needed firebreak.

The burning operation will continue today.

Iron Complex:

This series of 28 fires west of Junction City was about 38,981 acres and 44 percent contained Sunday. The 6,669-acre Cedar Fire was causing the havoc, forcing mandatory evacuations in Corral Bottom, Haglund Ranch, Cedar Flat and Friedrich Road. The 1,901-acre Zeigler Fire forced mandatory evacuations on Fisher Road. Trinity Village was issued a voluntary evacuation notice. A community meeting on the complex is scheduled at 6 p.m. at the community hall on Dutch Creek Road.

Lime Complex:

This 76,663-acre series of fires remained Sunday at 58 percent containment. But mandatory evacuations were ordered at Manzanita Ranch Road to west of the south fork of the Trinity River to the Big Slide Campground and up to the Humboldt County line. Evacuees went to the Hyampom Community Center. Power is out in Hyampom and there is no estimated time when it would be restored. A community meeting on the complex is scheduled at 7 p.m. today at Hayfork High School cafeteria.

Siskiyou Complex:

These fires near Happy Camp have now have consumed 35,000 acres and are only 16 percent contained. Burning in steep terrain on the Klamath National Forest, the blaze continues to threaten important Karuk and Yurok cultural and religious sites.


One Response

  1. […] These Northstate fires have been going on now for 3 weeks.  They started the week-end of June 21st!  Where we live outside Redding up on a plain, we could see lightning strikes all around us!   Mother Nature was putting on quite the performance.  No […]

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