The Lincoln National Forest is planning to allow the lightning-caused Middle Fire on the Sacramento Ranger District to fulfill its natural role of reducing forest fuels in hopes of reducing high-severity wildfire in the future.
While currently only about 5 acres in size, fire managers expect the Middle Fire to grow as it moves west through ponderosa pine in the bottom of Middle Canyon. Located about 8 miles southeast of Weed and 10 miles southeast of Mayhill, the low-intensity fire is in an ideal location with no homes, infrastructure or other values at risk. There are no closure orders in effect for the time being.
Smoke was first reported on August 31, 2019. After a substantial search, forest crews located the fire September 3, 2019. The fire is burning in an area with a moderate amount of dead and down trees towards the bottom of the canyon. Fire officials expect the fire to stay at the bottom of the canyon as the sides have limited fuel to allow the fire to spread. Permitting the wildfire to burn through this area naturally will remove fuels that could feed future severe wildfires. It will also help restore fire frequency intervals to historic conditions and improve a healthy ecosystem by increasing forage production.
While there is no planned end date for the wildfire, forest managers have established a planning area where the fire will be allowed to grow. This does not mean that the wildfire will move across the entire planning area. Weather conditions and terrain will be significant factors in long-term activity and rain is expected early next week.
Smoke is likely to become visible over the coming days as the fire spreads. As needed, crews will conduct burnout operations to properly direct the fire, which can cause an increase in the amount of smoke produced.