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Happy Camp Complex Fire Claims Homes, Evacuation Orders May Be Expanded

Kari Greer / California Interagency Incident Management Team

Evening operations on the Happy Camp Complex fire, Sept. 8, 2014.

Kari Greer / California Interagency Incident Management Team

Officials say the Happy Camp Complex wildfire in in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County has destroyed four homes and also damaged or destroyed four other buildings.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Rudy Evenson says 274 residents are under mandatory evacuation orders, and at least that many people have been told to be ready to leave home if the fire worsens.

The fire has burned more than 105,000 acres since it started on Aug. 12. It is 30 percent contained as of Wednesday morning.

 There are 2,517 personnel assigned to the fire, which has cost an estimated $60.7 million to fight.

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Happy Camp Complex Fire Latest update


Incident Overview (From the Inciweb site)

Community Meetings tonight: Fort Jones at 6pm. at the Fort Jones City Hall/Community Center (11960 East Street, Fort Jones, CA) and another meeting in Happy Camp at 7pm at the Karuk Tribe Senior Nutrition Center (64101 Second Ave, Happy Camp, CA). Fire management representatives will provide an update on the fire's current activity and be available to answer questions.

California Interagency Incident Team#1 is in command of the Happy Camp Complex and is working closely with all stakeholders regarding community needs, evacuations, and long range planning for suppression efforts.

Scott River Road remains closed and under mandatory evacuation from Johnson Bar south to Indian Scotty Campground. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department is monitoring traffic along the Scott River Road. The latest highway closure information, please contact the California Department of Transportation at 1-800-427-7623 or visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/cgi-bin/roads.cgi


The following updates were released by the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office: 

Effective 1400 on 9/9/2014, an EVACUATION ADVISORY has been issued to residents in all areas on the north and south side of Scott River road between Bridge Flat and Joyland Gulch. This includes Boulder Creek Road, Kelsey Creek Road, Forest Service Road 44N45, Lovers Camp Trailhead, Indian Scotty Camp Ground, Graveyard Gulch, Joyland Gulch and Member Creek. 

The MANDATORY EVACUATION in the lower 3 miles of Mill Creek Road 5 miles east of Scott River Road is STILL IN EFFECT. 

The MANDATORY EVACUATION along Scott River Road from Bridge Flat to the intersection of Highway 96 is STILL IN EFFECT. 

The mandatory evacuation from Highway 96 from the Klamath River Bridge, 1/2 mile west of Grider Road/Walker Creek Road, to Scott River Road on both sides of Highway 96, including the town of Hamburg, has been CHANGED to an ADVISORY. 

The EVACUATION ADVISORY for areas on Highway 96 from the Klamath River Bridge 1/2 mile west of Grider Road/Walker Creek Road to Cade Mountain, including the community of Seiad, Ladd Road, and Seiad Creek Road has been LIFTED. An Evacuation center is established at Happy Camp Karuk Tribal Community Center in Happy Camp, CA as well as at the Winema Hall of the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in Yreka, CA.

Portions of the Klamath National Forest are under an emergency closure order. For assistance with livestock evacuation, or for more information, please contact the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 841-2900. Additional information is also available at http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/content/emergency-information. 

Code Red Emergency Alert System: Siskiyou County County residents are welcome and encouraged to enter their contact information for home, business, and mobile phones so they may be contacted by the system in the event of an emergency. It is important for city residents and businesses customers to register, especially if they use unlisted numbers, cell phones, or VOIP. Those who do not register their address and phone number may not be notified with CodeRED in the case of an emergency. Registration is confidential, free, and easy.

Forest Closures and Restrictions: Roads, trails and lands within and adjacent to the Happy Camp and July Complexes, as well as the Beaver Fire, are closed to protect public and firefighter safety. For details on fire area closures, please see http://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/klamath/alerts-notices

Safety: If heavy smoke is present, people who are more vulnerable should take precautions and avoid prolonged or heavy outside activity. People should keep in mind smoke conditions can change quickly. Individuals at risk should consult their healthcare provider for evaluation of their best course of action and protective measures. A Clean Air Respite Center is located at the Karuk Tribe Senior Nutrition Center in Happy Camp (64101 Second Avenue). The center is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily and will remain open longer if needed due to smoky conditions.

Air quality: Yesterday Smoke drifted south of the fire with most of the smoke flowing into the Salmon River Valley. The Scott Valley saw an increase in smoke concentrations yesterday mostly in the Etna area.Today Smoke will be concentrated south of the fires today mostly in the Klamath River and Salmon River Valleys. Both the Scott Valley and Shasta should be clear most of the day with smoke entering these areas this evening.Tomorrow Smoke will be pushed west and southwest of the fire mostly in the Klamath River Valley area and northwest of the fire near the Seiad Valley and Happy Camp communities. 

Estimated Cost to Date: $60.7 million

 

Basic Information

Current as of 9/10/2014 9:44:29 AM
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Lightning
Date of Origin Tuesday August 12th, 2014 approx. 01:00 AM
Location Happy Camp, CA
Incident Commander Jerry McGowan (CIIMT1)
Incident Description Wildfire

Current Situation

Total Personnel 2,517
Size 105,194 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 30%
Fuels Involved

Timber (litter and understory), grass, brush and heavy downed material. Dense stands of mixed conifer are the dominant fuel source.

Significant Events

On 9/9, a smoke inversion covered the fire until around 1300. As the smoke cleared around 1500, fire activity increased with isolated torching and short crown runs into the evening.

Crews continued efforts to contain fire on the east of Scott River Road and made good progress. Structure defense remains in place.

On the west and northwest sides of the fire firefighters patrolled current containment lines, mopped-up where necessary, and continued suppression repair. Firefighters patrolled and mopped up along the Highway 96 corridor.

On 9/9/2014, the Kemper fire was declared controlled.

Outlook

Planned Actions

Aggressive action will be taken on all spot fires across Scott River Road from Swanson Gulch and McGuffy Creek. Direct attack will be utilized whenever possible. Structure defense in that area and Mill Creek is in place. Mop-up 100% around structures. A structure damage assessment will be conducted.

Construction and improvement of dozer line to the east of the Scott river will continue.

Firing operations will be continued along the south side of the fire from DP-28 to DP-11 as conditions allow.

The Divisions along the south and east sides of the fire will continue to be patrolled and direct line will be constructed as weather and fire behavior dictates. Line construction and preparations to hold fire will continue. Structure defense preparations and actions to strengthen lines are in place on Scott River Road. Divisions will work closely together to meet their objectives safely, putting fire fighter and public safety first.

Personnel assigned to the west flank will continue to mop-up where necessary and back-haul excess equipment to clear the area for suppression repair mechanical equipment. Firefighters on the northwest flank will mop-up where necessary, remove excess equipment in preparation for suppression repair and work with mechanical equipment in areas ready for repair. The scattered small fires of the complex are located in an area to the north of the main fire perimeter; suppression repair was successful and near completion on those remote fires. The north and northeast flanks are being patrolled and mopped-up.

The Divisions along the south and east sides of the fire will continue to be patrolled and direct line will be constructed as weather and fire behavior dictates. Line construction and preparations to hold fire will continue. Structure defense preparations and actions to strengthen lines are in place on Scott River Rd. Divisions will work closely together to meet their objectives safely, putting fire fighter and public safety first.

Remarks

CIIMT #1 is working closely with all stakeholders regarding community needs, evacuations, and long range planning for suppression efforts. CIIMT #1 is responsible for initial attack within the Happy Camp Complex TFR.

CAL FIRE is staffing Branch V with state resources.

The Klamath National Forest is under an emergency closure order in and around the Happy Camp Complex. More information is available at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/klamath/

An Evacuation center was established at the Winema Hall of the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds in Yreka, CA.

Scott River Road remains closed and under mandatory evacuation from Johnson Bar south to Indian Scotty Campground. Residents in the Evacuation Advisory area west of Indian Scotty will be provide an entrance pass. Traffic along the Scott River Road is being monitored by the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office.

On 9//9/2014, the Kemper fire was declared controlled.

On 08/29/2014 the Frying Pan and Faulkstein Fires merged; the combined perimeter of the two fires is referred to as the Frying Pan Fire. All growth and additional cost for the Happy Camp Complex are added to the respective totals of the Frying Pan Fire. The acres recorded in block 7 are the cumulative acres for all 17 fires in the Happy Camp Complex. The acreage for the Frying Pan Fire will be shown in the table below.

The following 14 fires are included in the Happy Camp Complex and are 100% contained: Delta (150 acres), Jackson (29 acres), Sutcliffe (27 acres), Thompson (17 acres), Tims (13 acres), Ranch (6 acres), Huckleberry (5 acres), Bear (4 acres), China (3 acres), Mill (2 acres), Luther 1 (.4 acres), El Capitan (.2 acres), Luther 2 (.1 acres), and Noranda (.1 acres). The 256.8 acres for these fires, 185 acre Kemper Fire, 5,225 acre Falkstein Fire, and all acres of the Frying Pan fire are INCLUDED in the complex.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns

Overnight, there was poor humidity recovery over the ridges at 20-25%. Valley RH recovered to around 65-70%. Ridgetop winds were NE 7-12mph with gusts to 22mph. Typical drainage winds were present. Temperatures on the ridges were 57-62F, 45-55F in the valleys.

Today (Wednesday 9/10) will be warmer and dryer, with RHs dropping down to 10-15% in the canyons and 16-22% on the ridges. Max Temperatures 88-94F in the canyons and 81-85F on the ridges. Expect to see ridgetop winds out of the east 6-9mph, becoming northeast 3-6mph around 1200.

Easterly component ridge winds will return as the thermal trough builds back up the coast. This should help clear some of the smoke along the east and south flanks of the fire. Better heating will enhance slope/canyon winds. Thermal trough meanders near the incident Thursday bringing instability and variable ridge winds somewhat favoring east. Northwest winds arrive Friday as the thermal trough pushes east.

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Ed Joyce

Former All Things Considered Anchor & Reporter

Ed Joyce is a former reporter and All Things Considered news anchor at Capital Public Radio. Ed is a veteran journalist with experience in a variety of news positions across all media platforms, including radio, television, web and print.   Read Full Bio