Crews Continue To Make Progress On Lightning-Caused Fires

Sep 12, 2019

FINAL UPDATE: FRIDAY, SEPT. 13, 11:15 a.m. ... Anticipated warmer, drier weather for the next couple of days has firefighters working to solidify the gains they've made over the past week on the remaining lightning-caused fires around the region. Here's the status of the most significant fires, as of the most recent reports:

Lime fire, in the Klamath National Forest: Barely growing to 1,872 acres, up to 45 percent containment. All evacuation orders have been lifted.

Red Bank fire, in Tehama County, CA.: Holding at 8,838 acres, 95 percent contained.

Gopher fire, in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest: Holding at 352 acres, up to 20 percent containment.

All these fires seem well in hand. Unless the situation changes, this will be the final report on these three fires.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, SEPT. 12, 10:30 a.m. ... Anticipated warmer, drier weather for the next couple of days has firefighters working to solidify the gains they've made over the past week on the remaining lightning-caused fires around the region. Here's the status of the most significant fires, as of the most recent reports:

Lime fire, in the Klamath National Forest: Slowly growing to 1,862 acres, up to 25 percent containment.

Red Bank fire, in Tehama County, CA.: Holding at 8,838 acres, 85 percent contained.

Gopher fire, in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest: growing very slowly to 352 acres, up to 5 percent containment.

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11, 6:00 a.m. ... Firefighters continue to tale advantage of cooler, moister weather to gain ground on a number of fires sparked by the thunderstorm that rolled last week through Southern Oregon and Northern California.

The Lime fire, in the Klamath National Forest has slowly grown to 1,620 acres, but is now 14 percent contained. Firefighters supported by aircraft are expected to continue to build and improve fire containment lines along the fire’s edge today as weather and conditions permit.

The Red Bank fire in Tehama County, west of Red Bluff, is still being held to 8,838 acres and is up to 75 percent containment. yesteday, California Air National Guard helicopters flew more than 150 firefighters in to construct and secure containment lines for an aggressive fire attack.

In the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, crews are making progress on the Gopher fire, southwest of Crater Lake. Cool, moist weather has slowed fire activity and the fire's size is holding around 340 acres. 

UPDATE TUESDAY, SEPT. 10, 5:30 a.m ... Continuing cool weather and higher humidity are allowing firefighters to gain ground on the Red Bank fire in Tehama County. For the second day, crews held the fire to 8,838 acres, and containment grew to 55 percent. All mandatory evacuation orders remain lifted.

The Lime fire, in the Lime Gulch area of the Klamath National Forest, has been slowly growing since it began during last week's lightning storms. As of Monday evening, it was up to 1,400 acres, burning in grass and brush on steep slopes. Firefighters are being challenged by extremely steep terrain and limited access points. Both direct and indirect fireline is being constructed. Water-dropping helicopters and retardant aircraft are supporting firefighters on the ground. 

The cooler temps and higher humidity has moderated the fire's behavior, but the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation order for nearby areas.

The Gopher fire is still burning in the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, within the perimeter of the 2008 Middle Fork fire. As of Monday at 6:00 p.m., it was at 340 acres and growing slowly. 

Officials at the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Tuesday evening issued a closure order for some trails and roads in the area for firefighter and public safety.

Firefighters continue to improve access to the fire by opening old roads outside of the wilderness. Hazard trees, primarily snags, are being felled where needed. Operations staff are scouting for an optimum containment strategy on the south end of the fire in the steep Middle Fork drainage. Snags from previous fires continue to be the main hazard for firefighters.

Cool wet weather will continue over the fire for the next several days with possible thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon, then a warming and drying trend returns Wednesday.

UPDATE: MONDAY, SEPT. 9, 2:00 p.m. ... Favorable weather conditions helped firefighters hold the Red Bank fire in Tehama County to 8,838 acres on Sunday. It's the first day of no increase in size since the fire first took off last Thursday and grew to 4,000 acres in just a few hours. The fire is now at 55 percent containment. All mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted.

The Lime fire, in the Lime Gulch area of the Klamath National Forest, has been slowly growing since it began during last week's lightning storms. As of Monday morning, it was up to 1,100 areas, burning mostly in grass and brush on steep slopes. 

Cooler temps and higher humidity has moderated the fire's behavior, but the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation order for nearby areas.  A community meeting has been scheduled for Monday 9/9/2019 at 6:00 pm in the Klamath River Community Hall, 19716 Highway 96, Klamath River, CA

The Gopher fire is still burning in the Sky Lakes Wilderness within the perimeter of the 2008 Middle Fork fire. As of Monday at noon, it was at 340 acres and growing slowly. Firefighters continue to improve access to the fire by opening old roads outside of the wilderness. Hazard trees, primarily snags, are being felled where needed. Operations staff are scouting for an optimum containment strategy on the south end of the fire in the steep Middle Fork drainage. Snags from previous fires continue to be the main hazard for firefighters.

Higher humidity will help keep spread rates low and most of the active fire will be limited to the heavy fuels which are prevalent due to the previous fire. Cool wet weather will continue over the fire for the next several days with possible thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon, then a warming and drying trend returns Wednesday.

In Jackson and Josephine Counties, the Southwest District of the Oregon Department of Forestry is continuing to fight the remnants of more than two dozen fires caused by last Thursday's lightning storms.  Crews have extinguished the majority of those fires, but a few new reports have recently been called in. Among them is the Bunker Creek Fire, located in the far northwest corner of Josephine County, 17 miles west of Wolf Creek. It's burning in remote and rugged terrain and is estimated  to be eight acres.

ODF officials say that in the coming days and even weeks, it's possible for additional small fires to flare up from this storm.

UPDATE: SUNDAY, SEPT. 9, 11:45 a.m. ... Fire crews are making progress in containing the Red Bank fire in Tehama County. Firefighters will be taking advantage of some favorable weather that brought cooler temperatures and higher humidities. Winds should be fairly light on Sunday. Although the humidities will be higher, the vegetation remains extremely dry and volatile. Terrain and access will continue to challenge firefighting efforts. The fire has now burned 8,838 acres and is 20 percent contained.

Menawhile, the Gopher Fire is burning within the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, approximately 11 miles east of Prospect, OR. The fire is estimated at 300 acres and is the result of five small fires that burned together after the lightning storm that moved through the area September 5th. The additional 70 acres since Saturday is largely due to consumption of snags and woody materials from the 2008 Middle Fork Fire.

Yesterday, heavy helicopters were used to check the fire’s spread on the east flank, keeping the fire from spreading further up the Middle Fork drainage. Crews made great progress on the west side of the fire and that containment line should be completed by the end of shift Sunday. 

There will be a mommunity meeting tonight (September 8), at the Prospect Community Hall at 7:00 P.M.

UPDATE: SATURDAY, SEPT. 7,  4:00 p.m. ... The Red Bank Fire continues to burn about half an hour west of Red Bluff in Tehama County, CA. Hot, dry winds drove explosive growth of the fire Thursday afternoon, when it grew from 40 to more than 4,000 acres in just a few hours.  The fire was estimated at 7,754 acres as of Saturday morning and was at 9 percent containment. Evacuations remain in force.

On the Oregon side, the Gopher Fire burning in the Sky Lakes Wilderness in the South Cascades hit 230 acres Saturday. The fire -- which is actually five separate lightning-sparked fires that have grown together -- is burning in very steep terrain and the fuels are comprised entirely of large dead snags, grass and brush.

Fire managers are optimistic that cooler weather with higher relative humidities will provide for an opportunity to make good progress on containment efforts.

Many smaller fires in the Rogue River-Siskiyou, Shasta-Trinity and Klamath National Forests— most an acre or less—are getting attention. Most are at or approcahing containment.

Nearly four dozen small lightning-caused fires in Jackson and Josephine Counties are being worked on by the Oregon Department of Forestry, as well. About half have been extinguised, and mop-up is continuing on most of the others. The total burned on all those fires was about 25 acres.

Temperatures are predicted to be cooler in the next few days, but fires originally sparked by lightning may ignite and flare up in the coming days and weeks. Reconnaissance flights will be conducted every day until crews fly three consistent days free of reports of smoke or fires.