Orleans Complex Fire Update, Septmber 5, 2017
Incident: Orleans Complex Wildfire
Evacuations: Due to last night’s fire activity, a mandatory evacuation order is being issued this morning for residents east of Highway 96 between Rogers Creek Road (FR 12N52) and Ti Creek. An advisory evacuation warning remains in effect for residents east of Highway 96 from Burns Creek south to Ti Creek, from Rogers Creek Road south to Somes Bar, and along the Salmon River Road to Wooley Creek. Residents can stay informed of changing conditions by calling the fire information number (530-572-1129) or by watching for updates at http://www.facebook.com/SixRiversNF or https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5430/
In late July, a series of thunderstorms passed through northern California igniting 19 fires, three of which remain active. The Ukonom Fire is 4,234 acres; Haypress Fire is 12,907 acres; Burney Fire is 1,451 acres. The complex is being managed using a combination of containment and confinement strategies.
Current Fire Situation: Gusty, localized winds beginning around 7pm caused a significant increase in fire behavior in several areas on the Haypress Fire. Most of the fires growth was to the northwest. Reported acreage is based on field estimates since infrared flight mapping cannot be conducted. As of this morning, no structures have been reported damaged or destroyed.
The fire made a significant push off of Merrill Mountain, with flame lengths around 100 feet observed early in the evening as the fire moved north, pushing spots over Forest Road (FR) 15N17. Crews conducted some careful back firing along FR 12N09 to lessen its strength. Their efforts were successful and by midnight fire activity had decreased in the area. The fire did not move west down Merrill Creek.
Overnight, significant growth also occurred down the Stanshaw Creek drainage. Fire established around Bald Butte with considerable spotting occurring ahead of the main fire. Because of the active fire behavior and numerous fire-weakened trees, crews were pulled out of the area. That area remains active this morning, although high humidity recovery is helping to mitigate the fire effects. Night shift crews focused on assessing the location of the spot fires.
Those two areas will remain the priority today. Crews will continue to prepare structures, working with landowners to clear brush, wrap houses, to set up water systems, and to scout opportunities for assessment along the fire’s edge.
No significant activity was reported on the Ukonom Fire. No observation of the Burney Fire has been possible since the infrared plane has been unavailable.
Weather: Subtropical moisture moving into the area will result in partly cloudy skies and a possibility of thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon and evening. A chance of thunderstorms and lightning is expected to remain in the forecast through Friday, with the chance of precipitation increasing through through the week. Gusty winds associated with thunderstorms can cause erratic fire behavior and threaten firefighter safety.
Air quality: Limited smoke dispersion will persist for today for the area. Smoke is likely to continue to be in the hazardous category at Seiad Valley, Happy Camp, and Sawyers Bars. Yreka, Etna, Orleans, Weitchpec, Hoopa and Willow Creek are likely to be in the Very Unhealthy category today. Fort Jones, and Callahan are likely to be in the Unhealthy category for today.
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).