EUREKA, California, August 2, 2015 – Active lightning strikes last week on the Six Rivers National Forest have resulted in multiple fires on all of the forest’s districts—the Gasquet Ranger District/Smith River National Recreation Area, Orleans Ranger District, Lower Trinity Ranger District and the Mad River Ranger District. Fires on the Lower Trinity and Mad River districts are being managed by incident management teams.
After four years of drought and recent dry, hot weather, forest vegetation is extremely dry, resulting in rapid and large fire growth. Firefighters are seeing extreme fire behavior in many parts of the forest.
Forest Supervisor Merv George Jr. said, “We are now navigating over 40 known fires on the forest. Teams are now settling in and are eager to go to work.”
Gasquet Ranger District: There are 9 active fires. The Go Fire is now in patrol status, having been contained at 0.15 acres. The Divide Fire is contained at about 3 acres. The Bear Fire has burned about 125 acres and is about a mile from the Bear Basin Butte Lookout and Pierson Cabin. The Paw/Paw 2 Fire has burned approximately 25 acres in the Siskiyou Wilderness. The Coon Fire has burned approximately 200 acres. Acreage for the Feeder (formerly Marlow) Fire, near the base of Buck Mountain, is 20 acres. Newly reported fires are the Peak (80 acres), Williams (20 acres) and Summit (0.5 acres). A Type 2 Incident Management Team has been ordered for what will be the Gasquet Complex.
Orleans Ranger District: There are currently 8 fires. The Beans Fire was contained at 0.4 acres. The Lonesome Fire is about 1.5 acres and is 90 percent contained. The Wooley Fire is 1.5 acres, is 15 percent contained, and is about 1.5 mile from the Tom Taylor Cabin, in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. The Nickowitz Fire is 50 acres and 40 percent contained. Acreage is unavailable for the Sawtooth, Boundary, Rough and Creek fires. Additional equipment and personnel have been ordered.
River Complex – Lower Trinity Ranger District: The River Complex, burning north of Highway 299, is made up of 18 fires on the Six Rivers and Shasta-Trinity national forests. Estimated acreage is now 3,182 acres, including some acreage burned within the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Incident Command Post (ICP) is at Veterans Park, in Willow Creek. The fire is being managed by California Inter-Agency Incident Management Team 3 under the command of Mark von Tillow. Their Incident Command Post (ICP) is at Veterans Park, in Willow Creek.
The fires continued to grow today. Fires were observed making uphill runs, backing downslope and torching multiple trees. The focus of firefighters is preparing for the defense of many of the 110 residences threatened in the Denny area. Vegetation around many structures is being modified to provide for defensible space.
Keeping the Denny Road clear has presented a challenge due to falling rocks and trees. There are many hazard trees throughout the fire area posing a danger to firefighters and motorists.
Voluntary evacuations are in place for residents of Hoboken, Dailey, Denny and some residents along the Denny Road.
· Mad River Complex – Mad River Ranger District: The Mad River Complex is a group of fires that are located within the Mad River Ranger District of the Six Rivers National Forest. After the initial lightning storm moved through the area on July 30th, firefighters responded and detected 25 fires. Seven fires remain and are the focus of the current containment efforts.
The seven fires within the complex have burned 13,127 acres and are 5 percent contained. The Gobbler Fire and Pickett Fire are on both sides of Ruth Lake and are the largest fires within the complex. Today firefighters continued to make containment lines on the north and south ends of those fires and in steeper areas allowed the fire to slowly back to the Van Duzen Road and Highway 36. Structures defense was continued throughout the day and no additional structure losses occurred in the area with 130 residential homes. The Buck, Tierney and Jack fires are just below Highway 36 near the Mad River Ranger Station and experienced slow growth today. Firefighters are attacking the fires edge and continue progress on containment lines. The final two fires—the Lassic and Swayback—are on the western edge of the forest boundary.
A new management team will assume command of the Mad River Complex of fires, on Monday, August 3, at 6:00 PM. The current fire management team will be relocated to other fires in the region. Firefighting resources will continue to suppress the fire and will be under command of the incoming team.
Evacuations remain in effect for the Mad River Road from Highway 36 to Three Forks Road and on the backside of the lake, on Ruth/Zenia Road to the Ruth Dam. An evacuation advisory is in order in the Van Duzen Road area. A road closure is in effect for Highway 36 at Forest Glen west to Lower Mad River Road, Lower Mad River Road to Ruth/Zenia Road, and Ruth/Zenia Road to Three Forks Area.
Smoke has decreased visibility across many areas of the forest. Smoke conditions may limit visibility on local roads and highways. Motorists are urged to use caution when travelling in the forest due to the smoke hazard and the potential of firefighters working along the roadways.
To date, there have been no firefighter injuries reported.
The daytime temperatures will be in the mid-80s to mid-90s with a possibility of thunderstorms in the area over the next few days. Winds will be out of the southwest, and if there are thunderstorms, the winds could be erratic erratic.
While there has been no drone activity on any of the Six Rivers National Forest fires, drones interfere with firefighting efforts. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) that is in effect and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges. Even without a TFR, anyone who hampers firefighting efforts could face charges as well. For more information on drones, visit the FAA’s website at www.KnowBeforeYouFly.org. “If you fly, we can’t!”