Firefighters making slow, steady progress at Ruth Lake

Six Rivers National Forest

EUREKA, California, August 3, 2015 – Active lightning strikes last week on the Six Rivers National Forest have resulted in multiple fires on all of the forest’s districts—the Gasquet Ranger District/Smith River National Recreation Area, Orleans Ranger District, Lower Trinity Ranger District and the Mad River Ranger District. Fires on the Gasquet, Lower Trinity and Mad River districts are now being managed by incident management teams.

After four years of drought and recent dry, hot weather, forest vegetation is extremely dry, resulting in rapid and large fire growth. Firefighters are seeing extreme fire behavior in many parts of the forest.

Gasquet Complex – Gasquet Ranger District: There are 9 active fires. The Go Fire was contained at 0.2 acres. The Divide Fire was contained at 3 acres. The Bear Fire has burned 125 acres and is 20 percent contained. Because the fire moved closer to the Bear Basin Butte Lookout and Pierson Cabin, it was closed and the occupants were evacuated. The Paw Fire has burned 30 acres in the Siskiyou Wilderness and is 20 percent contained. The Coon Fire has burned 200 acres and is 20 percent contained. The Peak Fire is at 85 acres, the Summit Fire is at 0.5 acres, the Williams Fire is at 20 acres, and the Feeder Fire is at 15 acres. The fires are now being managed by Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team (IMT) 2 with Don Garwood as incident commander.

Orleans Ranger District: There are currently 8 fires. The Beans Fire was contained at 0.4 acres. The Lonesome Fire was contained at 1.5 acres. The Wooley Fire is 7 acres, 15 percent contained, and about 1.5 mile from the Tom Taylor Cabin, in the Marble Mountain Wilderness. The Nickowitz Fire is 50 acres and 40 percent contained. Acreage estimates are unavailable for the Sawtooth, Boundary, Rough and Creek fires. Additional equipment and personnel have been ordered.

River Complex – Lower Trinity Ranger District: The 18 fires of the River Complex continue to grow and burn together. The Happy and Dyer Fires have now combined and been named the Happy Fire. Estimated acreage burned is now 3,745 acres, including some acreage burned within the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The fires are being managed by California Interagency IMT 3 under the command of Mark von Tillow. Their incident command post (ICP) is at Veterans Park, in Willow Creek.

Smoke from fires to the south is impacting visibility in the area, moderating fire behavior. Fire runs have been driven by topography. Primarily, the fires have been backing downslope, burning only the vegetation on the ground. Falling dead trees in the area are presenting a hazard to firefighters on and off the roadways. Keeping the Denny Road clear has presented a challenge due to falling rocks and trees.

Firefighters are clearing vegetation along roadways in the Dailey, Hoboken and Bell Flat area. Additionally, they are assessing the fires in the Trinity Alps Wilderness and formulating a plan to attack them.

Voluntary evacuations are in place for residents of Hoboken, Dailey, Denny and some residents along the Denny Road.

Mad River Complex – Mad River Ranger District: There are currently seven fires burning on the Mad River Complex totaling 13,157 acres. Containment of the complex is at 6 percent. Over 600 personnel are currently assigned to the incident. The complex is being managed by Southern California Interagency IMT 1 with Norm Walker as incident commander. The ICP is at the Flying AA Guest Ranch, in Ruth.

The Gobbler and Pickett fires are on both sides of Ruth Lake and are the largest fires within the complex. Late yesterday and last night, firefighters took advantage of favorable conditions and conducted burning out operations around structures near the community of Ruth and Ruth Lake. These operations were very successful creating less unburned vegetation near structures. Firefighters will continue constructing lines on the north and south ends of those fires while taking advantage of incoming resources and continuing their efforts on the remaining 5 fires located in the complex. The Buck, Tierney and Jack fires are just south of Highway 36, near the Mad River Ranger Station and experienced slow growth yesterday.

A new management team will assume command of the Mad River Complex of fires today at 6 PM. The current fire management team will be relocated to other fires in the region. Firefighting resources will continue to suppress the fire and will be under command of the incoming team.

Evacuations remain in effect for the Mad River Road from Highway 36 to Three Forks Road and on the backside of the lake, on Ruth/Zenia Road to the Ruth Dam. An evacuation advisory is in order in the Van Duzen Road area. A road closure is in effect for Highway 36 at Forest Glen west to Lower Mad River Road, Lower Mad River Road to Ruth/Zenia Road, and Ruth/Zenia Road to Three Forks Area.

Smoke has decreased visibility across many areas of the forest. Smoke conditions may limit visibility on local roads and highways. Motorists are urged to use caution when travelling in the forest due to the smoke hazard and the potential of firefighters working along the roadways. Although the smoke layer is expected to lift today, increasing visibility, it will cause an increase in fire activity.

To date, there have been no firefighter injuries reported.

Daytime temperatures will be in the mid-80s to mid-90s with a possibility of thunderstorms in the area over the next few days. Winds will be out of the southwest and could be erratic, if accompanied by thunderstorms.

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