[env-trinity] Trinity Journal- Fire Threat Diminished

Tom Stokely tstokely at trinityalps.net
Wed Jul 2 09:49:15 PDT 2008


           June 25, 2008   


      Fire threat diminished


            Lightning-sparked fires drove Trinity County residents in several communities from their homes last week, but as of Tuesday all the evacuations had been lifted--with no homes lost.

            "They're making good progress on those fires and adjusting to the weather conditions as things are changing," Shasta-Trinity Forest fire information officer Kent Romney said Tuesday. "Fortunately, we didn't have any impact from forecasted electrical storms this past weekend, so that allowed us to get a handle on these fires."

            Romney said that fire activity picked up on both the Lime and Iron fire complexes in Trinity County when the temperature inversion that was holding smoke in lifted. However, he said, the two complexes were not now raising alarms for populated areas, although firefighters are working to protect isolated structures.

            Although portions of highways 299 and 36 were closed, they are open now. Highway 299 on top of Buckhorn Summit has had one-way controlled traffic.  

            The Six Rivers National Forest also has acreage afire in Trinity County.

            At the Hells Half Complex southwest of Burnt Ranch, fire information officer Gary Hoshide said work was focused on the eastern flank of the largest fire in the group, the Half Fire with 82 personnel assigned. This fire is the closest to Burnt Ranch and a quarter-mile west of Underwood Mountain Road. The road is a primary access and escape route for Hyampom, he said.

            Last week was a chaotic one for Trinity County residents Downriver as the Eagle Fire, one of the 21 fires in the 19,178-acre Iron Complex of blazes, caused evacuations at Coopers Bar Estates, the Canyon Creek and Helena areas, and west of Junction City.

            There were voluntary evacuations recommended for Slattery Pond, Senger Road and Red Hill Road east of Senger Road.

            The evacuations affected 119 homes, and the American Red Cross opened a shelter at Weaverville Elementary School. It closed after a few days.

            As the Eagle Fire moved eastward to threaten Junction City last week, resident Brad Riddle witnessed the firefighting effort as the blaze approached his home on three sides. Riddle, 28, his mother and girlfriend rent a home across Highway 299 from Bigfoot Campground. The sheriff's department came by their place Wednesday evening.

            "They said it wasn't mandatory but we should get out," Riddle said.

            They packed their things in preparation to evacuate, but wound up staying and helping to prepare the property for the siege ahead.

            Riddle's friend, Vince Hubbell, came from Douglas City to help. "We stood there for about four hours watching the fire rip through trees and brush," Hubbell said, adding that at one point fire crews that had been setting up at the campground across the highway vanished. It turned out they'd been called away to protect Coopers Bar, but they returned.

            Fire crews cut a fire line around the house and lit a back burn, Riddle said.

            He noted that one Forest Service firefighter lives in the Canyon Creek area that was evacuated. "He was in my front yard working on my fire," Riddle said.

            He was impressed by the work of Shasta-Trinity Hotshots crew C-506 that cut the initial fire lines. Cal Fire crews also worked on fire lines.

            "I could hear them cutting timber 'til like 1 in the morning," Riddle said of the crews.

            The fire came within 100 to 150 feet of the house, he said.

            Also last week, a fire in the 35,445-acre Lime Complex caused recommendations for voluntary evacuations at Wildwood affecting about 40 homes. That evacuation has also ended.

            The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District issued an air quality alert Tuesday warning that smoke levels were very unhealthy in the areas of Junction City, Helena, Hayfork, Hyampom, Wildwood, Ruth, and all areas around the fires. It is recommended that individuals in those areas limit their activity and stay indoors.

            Currently, there are five complexes of fires burning in Trinity County: the Lime, Iron, Alps, Hells Half, and Mad complexes. As of Tuesday, their status was:

            - Lime Complex on the Shasta-Trinity Forest, affecting the areas of Hyampom, Hayfork, Wildwood, and, in Shasta County, Platina - 70 fires, 35,445 acres, 36 percent contained.

            - Iron Complex on the Shasta-Trinity Forest, affecting Downriver areas from Junction City to Burnt Ranch and extending north - 21 fires, 19,178 acres, 25 percent contained.

            - Alps Complex on the Shasta-Trinity Forest within and adjacent to the Trinity Alps Wilderness, 13 fires, 2,650 acres, 2 percent contained.

            - Hells Half Complex on the Six Rivers Forest, about three miles southwest of Burnt Ranch, 2,440 acres, 20 percent contained with estimated full containment date of July 31.

            - Mad Complex on the Six Rivers Forest, Mad River Ranger District, 2,644 acres.
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