Deadly Panther Fire Still Growing

As firefighters continued Thursday to encircle fires burning in Trinity County, a deadly blaze that claimed the life of a Washington firefighter last week in Siskiyou County continues to rapidly grow.

The lightning-caused Panther Fire, which is burning about 15 miles southwest of Happy Camp, had grown to 5,338 acres Thursday night.

That fire began July 21 and is zero percent contained, but it’s not threatening any homes at this time, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said.

Daniel Bruce Packer, 49, of Lake Tapps, Wash., died Saturday while scouting the Panther Fire near Happy Camp in Siskiyou County. He had sought cover from a fiery blow-over under his personal emergency fire shelter, fire officials have said. An autopsy performed Tuesday showed that Packer died as a result of thermal burns and smoke inhalation. A sunrise memorial service to honor him was set for 6 a.m. today at the Ukonom Complex Incident Command Post in Orleans in southwest Siskiyou County. Another memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at River Park in Happy Camp.

Another firefighter, 18-year-old Andrew Jackson Palmer, 18, of Port Townsend, Wash., died the day before when he was hit by a tree while helping to battle the lightning-sparked Eagle Fire near Junction City.

The 18-year-old Washington firefighter died because of blood loss when his leg was crushed.

A 72-hour report on events surrounding Palmer’s death was issued by the Forest Service on Thursday night.

The reports shows Palmer was injured about 1:50 p.m. and was treated by emergency medical personnel after Palmer’s crew called for help.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Arcata picked him up about 4:30 p.m., the report says. Another helicopter had been on the way, but because of heavy smoke in the area, rescuers required the Coast Guard helicopter that could fly under limited visibility, Forest Service spokesman Mike Odle said.

Palmer went into cardiac arrest and died on arrival at Redding Municipal Airport about 5:06 p.m. before he could be taken by ambulance to a Redding hospital for further treatment.

Here is a roundup of fires still burning in the north state:

Iron Complex: The complex, which was 81 percent contained, had burned about 82,222 acres. There are three priority fires: The Eagle Fire was at 24,633 acres and 84 percent contained as of Thursday night; the Buckhorn Fire was at 14,099 acres and 21 percent contained; and the Carey Fire was at 2,136 acres and 50 percent contained.

Lime Complex: The Lime Complex had burned 61,957 acres and was 75 percent contained on Thursday. The Miners Fire was relisted at 24,343 acres and 75 percent contained, and the Lime Fire was at 22,482 acres and 50 percent contained. Hyampom Road remains closed until further notice from about three miles west of the junction with Highway 3 to about two miles west of the junction with Forest Road 10.

Yolla Bolly Complex: A series of fires had burned 75,091 acres and were 40 percent contained. The Grouse Fire was at 2,517 acres with 10 percent containment; the Yellow Fire was 28,056 acres and 35 percent contained; and the Vinegar Fire was at 40,671 acres and 40 percent contained.

Siskiyou Complex: Fires southwest of Happy Camp had scorched 58,456 acres and were 46 percent contained.

Bear Wallow Complex: Two fires in the Marble Mountain Wilderness and Trinity Alps Wilderness had burned 10,376 acres and were 14 percent contained. A 16-mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trial north of the Etna Summit was closed. The Trinity Alps Wilderness north of Caribou Lakes was closed.

Blue 2 Complex: Fires west of the Siskiyou Complex had burned 6,459 acres and were 30 percent contained.

Ukonom Complex: Fires near Forks of Salmon had burned 40,250 acres and were 35 percent contained.

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