Wind, High Temps Could Threaten Progress Made On Containing The Klamathon Fire
UPDATE: Sunday July 8, 8:45 p.m. ... Crews continue to battle the Klamathon fire along the Oregon-California border.
As of Sunday evening, the fire had burned 35,000 acres and was 25 percent contained.
Officials say significant progress has been made in building containment lines to prevent the fire's spread. But the hot, windy weather forecast for the coming week could threaten that progress.
With that in mind, existing evacuation orders have been continued for now, and new areas in Jackson County have been put on Level 3 ("GO!") and Level 2 ("Get Set") evacuation notices.
At a Sunday evening briefing in Yreka, CalFire's Darryl Lawson said the south and west sides of the fire are largely under control. He said lines had been built from the west side of Hornbrook up to Hilt, and that those lines are holding.
"We're not out of the woods yet," Lawson said. "We're still trying to improve those lines and make sure we don't have any more issues in that area."
Lawson said there's been four miles of line built along the north side of the fire, on the Oregon side of the state line, and that lines on the east side are getting tied into the lines on the south. He said gusty winds on Saturday had threatened those lines, but they held.
The biggest problem area of the fire currently is along the north side, where the fire is burning into the Soda Mountain Wilderness area. CalFire fire behavior analyst Tim Chavez said that area is very rugged and has no recorded history of having had a fire, so it's likely to have a heavy buildup of woody fuels. That could mean a fire that burns hot and is hard to get firefighters into.
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said more than 70 officers from his office and other local, state and federal agencies have been working to maintain safety on the roads, escorting people into evacuation areas to recover critical items and patroling evacuated neighborhods to prevent looting.
Meteorologist Rich Thompson with the National Weather Service said winds are expected to pick up to 15 to 20 miles per hour by late Monday morning. By evening, he said, gusts up to 35 miles per hour are forecast. Winds are expected to die down on Tuesday, but by Wednesday temperatures are expected to climb into the high 90s and low 100s, and stay there into the weekend.
Brandon Keller, the firefighter who received facial burns on Thursday, has been released from the University of California David burn center. His relatives say he's in good spirits and is is making excellent progress. A GoFundMe account set up to help Keller with living expenses while he recovers exceeded its $25,000 goal in one day.
Lt. Jeremiah LaRue of the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office says there's still been no identification of the body found in a burned home in Hornbrook. He said the condition of the body is making identification difficult.
LaRue also said that at this time there are no missing persons connected to the fire.