HAPPY CAMP, CALIFORNIA — Based on reduced fire activity, fire suppression strategy on the Slater and Devil Fires yesterday changed from structure and utility protection only to a larger perimeter containment strategy. After an infrared heat detection flight last night, Team 10 was able to confirm that the total footprint of the fire was smaller than first estimated using satellite and data from ground troops.
Along the Slater Fire’s northwestern side in Del Norte County, the focus remained on point protection yesterday, primarily along Highway 199 from Gasquet to the Collier Tunnel. The fire is currently hung up at Oregon Mountain Road and backing into Knopki Creek, so there is currently little movement along the southwestern edge in this area. The Gasquet Ranger District’s (Six Rivers National Forest) Smith River Hotshots have been assigned to the Slater Fire.
On the south end of the Slater Fire, favorable weather conditions slowed fire activity significantly yesterday and overnight. However, the initially hot and fast-moving fire weakened trees in the burn area. Falling snags along Highway 96, some of them very large, pose a risk to firefighters and anyone else nearby.
Firing operations will begin today along the Slater Fire’s eastern edge to protect structures in the Thompson Creek area, while scouts look for opportunities to contain and control fire spread down river where the fire is approaching Highway 96. Firefighters are working to assess and implement structure protection in the Highway 96 corridor, and to protect road access on the highway.
Further up the eastern flank of the Slater Fire, crews continued to make good progress constructing fireline between the town of Seiad and the Devil Fire, which is likely to soon merge with the Slater Fire burning to its west. Fire managers have also continued scouting to determine where best to hold the fire to prevent it from threatening communities and structures to the north, east, and west.
Meanwhile, on the north side of the Slater Fire, crews and equipment continue to make headway along the west side of Highway 199, with hopes of buttoning up both sides of that highway with fireline and turn the northwest corner of the fire to connect with containment efforts along the fire’s northern edge. The Wild Rivers Ranger District (Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest) currently has 150 local firefighters assigned to the Slater Fire that are working along the Highway 199 corridor.
Meanwhile, aircraft are standing by to assist in firefighting and intelligence gathering if the air clears enough. Smoky conditions have dampened fire activity over the past few days, but also hampered the use of aircraft due to poor visibility.
Moisture recovery rose overnight and is expected to go up even more today, with probability of ignition dropping to 40 to 50 percent for today. A low-pressure system from the coast could scour smoke out of the fire area starting tomorrow, but could also result in increased wind speeds. Relative humidity is expected to continue climbing, aiding fire managers in suppression efforts. With higher fuel moistures and light variable winds, the fire is anticipated to be more terrain driven tomorrow. Winds out of the east have caused smoke impacts from the Slater and Devil Fires that have extended over to the coast. Smoke continues to impact most of the west coast due to multiple large fires.
Both fires are still zero percent contained. The Devil Fire is estimated at 3,888 acres. The Slater Fire is estimated at 122,006 acres, according to last night’s infrared flight.
Due to extreme fire danger, all National Forests in California have been closed from September 9 through 14, 2020. More details on these closure orders, along with fire restrictions orders, can be found on National Forest websites and on InciWeb. Highway 199 remains closed from O’Brien south almost to Gasquet. Highway 96 remains closed from Portuguese Creek to Clear Creek.
EVACUATION ORDERS remain in effect for most of Happy Camp. However, Elk Creek Road and Seiad were both downgraded to an EVACUATION WARNING. In Oregon, Level 3 orders are in effect in the O'Brien and Takilma areas, Dick George Road (including most of Holland Loop) and Takilma Road areas, Brown Road, O'Brien and all areas south of Brown Road O'Brien. EVACUATION WARNINGS are in effect for Gasquet in California and Level 2 orders are in effect south of Kerby and Cave Junction areas in Oregon.
For more specific evacuation information, including information on any potential evacuations, visit the following sites:
Current evacuation orders are posted on Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SiskiyouCountySheriff/.
For Del Norte County evacuation information, see www.facebook.com/DelNorteOfficeOfEmergencyServices.
Additional info and resources for Josephine County can be found by calling Josephine County Fire Information Center 541-474-5305 (7am-10pm) or online at: