Orleans Complex Fire Update, August 28, 2017
Incident: Orleans Complex Wildfire
The Orleans Complex comprises nineteen fires, six of which remain active: Ukonom (4,128 acres, 52 percent contained); Haypress (4,847 acres, 0 percent contained); Burney (1,349 acres, 0 percent contained); Forks (243 acres, 0 percent contained); Frank (27 acres, 0 percent contained); and Hooligan (0.1 acres, 0 percent contained). They are being managed using a combination of containment and confinement strategies.
Current Fire Situation: Fire intensity was low again yesterday, with continued heavy smoke limiting fire activity despite warmer, drier conditions. Overnight, the Haypress Fire moved north into the Marble Mountain Wilderness near the Haypress Trailhead at Forest Road (FR) 15N17E, and crews plan to let it spread naturally toward the road. Firefighters prepared for tactical firing along the road, which they will do if conditions allow. Fire-weakened trees pose a threat to firefighters working along the road, and a falling crew will be cutting today to mitigate that hazard. On the southern end of the Haypress Fire, crews continued preparing Forest Road 12N02 for firing operations while also monitoring the natural progression of the fire. The historic cabins in the Wooley Creek area are prepared should the fire reach them, and a crew is still stationed in the area for structure defense, should it become necessary.
The Ukonom Fire was minimally active yesterday and overnight, with a small area of movement on the southeastern edge of the fire, west of Ukonom Creek. No movement has been detected outside containment lines on the western edge of the fire or across Ukonom or Lick Creeks. Infrared mapping overnight revealed very little heat remaining within the fire perimeter, but crews continue to patrol and mop up, watching carefully for hazards that could threaten containment. A very small amount of heat was also detected on the Burney Fire. The other fires in the complex have shown no activity in several days.
Firefighters have begun suppression repair of firelines throughout the area. Along with building waterbars and removing berms to prevent erosion during precipitation, crews are covering opened firelines with vegetation to prevent unwanted access and to restore habitat. Throughout the complex, crews are coordinating closely with local experts to prevent damage to natural and cultural resources.
Weather: Hot and dry conditions are expected to persist today, with high pressure aloft remaining in the fire area throughout the day. A trough moving into the area Tuesday and Wednesday may result in atmospheric instability and increased cloud cover, but no rainfall is in the forecast. Temperatures are predicted to dip slightly early in the week, but could increase to well above normal as the week progresses.
Air Quality: Areas in the vicinity of the fires continue to be impacted heavily by smoke. As instability in the atmosphere increases, smoke will begin to mix and dissipate. Clearing smoke will also bring more sunlight into the area, which can increase fire activity resulting in more smoke. Areas closest to and adjacent to the fires will continue to see the worst air quality. Smoke will settle in valleys but is expected to dissipate in the afternoon into the evening. Happy Camp, Seiad Valley, the Scott Valley, Sawyers Bar, and Orleans can expect Unhealthy to Sensitive Groups to Hazardous Conditions. Air quality in Weed, Callahan, and Willow Creek will likely have Moderate to Unhealthy to Sensitive Groups levels. Drivers should be aware of limited visibility and changes in traffic flow. Information on the health effects of smoke and what you can do to reduce your smoke exposure can be found at [https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/wildfires/smoke.html].
Safety: Bow hunting season is open. Firefighters may be conducting suppression activities in hunting areas. Portions of the Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests are closed. Contact your local ranger station for current closure information. Motorists traveling on State Highway 96 are reminded that there will be numerous firefighting vehicles on the roadway. Please drive with caution.
Closures: The Klamath National Forest has issued Closure Order No. 17-05-801 to close trails, roads, and lands on the Ukonom Ranger District as a result of Orleans Complex fires:
Closure Order No. 17-05-797 closes a portion of the Ukonom and Happy Camp Ranger Districts northeast of the Ukonom Fire
Temporary Flight Restriction Area (TFR): A TFR is in effect over the fire area to provide a safe environment for firefighting aviation operations (http://bit.ly/2ws6uQq).
Fire Restrictions: The Six Rivers National Forest remains under fire restrictions to provide for public and resource safety (http://bit.ly/2wfQ7Ed).
For more information about the Six Rivers National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/srnf, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/USFSSixRiversNF/, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SixRiversNF.