Orleans Complex Fire Update, September 4, 2017
Incident: Orleans Complex Wildfire
In late July, a series of thunderstorms passed through northern California igniting 19 fires, three of which remain active. The Ukonom Fire is 4,227 acres; Haypress Fire is 11,591 acres; Burney Fire is 1,451 acres. The complex is being managed using a combination of containment and confinement strategies.
Evacuations: An advisory evacuation warning is in effect on the Orleans Complex east of Highway 96 from Burns Creek south to Somes Bar, and along the Salmon River Road to Wooley Creek.
Current Fire Situation: Predicted northeast winds picked up overnight, causing a moderate increase in fire behavior. Gusts to 25 mph were observed at the Ukonom Lookout.
The Haypress Fire spread predominantly to the west overnight. On the southwestern edge of the fire, crews observed three distinct areas where the fire is moving through heavy timber stands on Merrill Mountain and on the northeastern side of Merrill Creek. Fire behavior was moderate, with small groups of trees torching and causing short uphill runs. Little growth was observed after 2am, when the winds calmed and the heavy smoke inversion set in.
The fire also pushed north and west of Irving Mountain, and crews worked overnight to clear around the Stanshaw Creek Trailhead. Low intensity fire did move through the area, but no damage has been reported at this time. Crews continued to work arounds structures, primarily in the Marble Mountain Ranch and Patterson areas. The fire did not make a huge push, but is currently along the 13N11 road where it has crossed the road in several places.
Today, crews will focus in areas along Highway 96 and Salmon River road to reinforce protection for structures in the area.
No activity was observed on the Burney Fire, but the lack of infrared mapping is making fire observation difficult in remote areas.
Weather: A Red Flag Warning will remain in place until 9 am today for gusty winds and low relative humidity. Winds are expected to weaken this afternoon, and shift to the north across higher elevations. Weak up valley winds will persist at lower elevations. Subtropical moisture moving into California has already produced thunderstorms and lightning across the state. Thunderstorms, with accompanying gusty outflow winds and dry lightning, are predicted to arrive in the fire area this afternoon or evening.
Air quality: Limited smoke dispersion will persist for today and tomorrow for the Klamath and Salmon River drainages. Smoke is likely to continue to be in the hazardous category at Seiad Valley, Happy Camp, Orleans, Weitchpec, Hoopa and Sawyers Bars. Yreka, Weed, Fort Jones, Etna and Callahan are likely to experience some clearing compared to yesterday.
The Salmon August Complex has issued an additional evacuation order along the Salmon River Road from Nordheimer Flat east to Sawyer’s Bar. Information about the Salmon August Complex can be found at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5501/
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. Should the fire reach the road, drivers can expect periods of limited visibility and possible traffic controls, including controlled traffic and potential intermittent hard closures.
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).