Hot days ahead for Happy Camp Complex fire crews, containment at 20 percent

The following is a press release issued by the U.S. Forest Service:

Date Started: August 11, 2014

Size: 24,934 acres total for the complex

Containment: 20 percent

Estimated Containment Date: September 8, 2014

Estimated Cost to Date: $17.8 million Total Personnel: 2,024

Committed Resources: 64 crews, 8 helicopters, 99 engines, 16 dozers, 23 water tenders

Today's Events: There will be a community meeting in Seiad Valley today at 6 p.m. at the fire station. Team personnel and Klamath National Forest representatives will present information and answer questions about the Happy Camp Complex fires.

The Frying Pan Fire, in Zone 1, grew about 1,600 acres yesterday and is now 22,410 acres. The fire was most active on the north and northeast sides near China Creek and Wolf Creek, just west of Grider Ridge.

Clear skies allowed aircraft (including DC-10, BAe-146, and MD87) and helicopters a full day of flying, applying water and fire retardant on the fire's edge. Helicopters conducted more tactical ignition operations on the south side of the fire. The results were a continuous, low-intensity burn downslope toward Doolittle Creek, which should limit the fire's progression southward as it runs into the treated area.

The fire on the southwest side continues to burn down to Elk Creek in many places, where it then stops. It has not spotted across Elk Creek. The tactical ignition operation that crews started yesterday and worked on through the night was successful and held at the east-west dozer line just north of Wolf Creek and China Creek. Crews continue to mop up, patrol, and haul out excess equipment and supplies around the contained portion of the fire on the northwest side. On the northeast and south sides of the fire, crews continue to build new fireline and improve and hold existing fireline.

The Faulkstein Fire is 2,189 acres. Crews are working with resource advisors on all proposed line construction. Firefighters scouted for anchor points and areas where they could fight the fire directly and safely. The goal is to keep the fire's foot print as small as possible. The fire continues to creep toward Grider and Big Ridges. Firefighters continue structure preparation along Scott River Road and continue toconstruct contingency lines by the Lake Mountain lookout. This lookout is the oldest and only surviving rock tower with a cab in California. Lake Mountain Lookout has been in continuous operation since 1912.

Weather and Fire Behavior:

Today is the first of a three-day drying trend, with today and Wednesday being the hottest and driest days. The skies should be clear today, but expect abundant smoke with temperatures approaching 100 degrees in Happy Camp. Ridge winds will continue to be easterly and light over the next several days. The east winds will help firefighters keep the fire west of Grider Ridge and south of the dozer line in the Wolf Creek drainage.

Safety:

Firefighter and public safety is always the first priority for management teams. Snags are abundant on this fire. Fire can burn out the roots of trees and make them unstable and susceptible to falling at any time, even without strong winds. Another safety issue is escape routes. Firefighters cannotalways fight the fire directly at the fire's edge if they cannot establish an adequate escape route in the steep, rugged terrain. Driving and working along busy highways is another safety concern. Firefighters are still working along Highway 96 and the Scott River Road. Motorists should slow down and limitdistractions to help keep everyone safe when driving through the fire areas.

Air quality along the Klamath River drainage is affected by smoke from the Frying Pan and Faulkstein Fires. For more information about air quality in the area, please visit http://californiasmokeinfo.blogspot.com/

A Clean Air Respite Center is available at the Karuk Tribe Senior Nutrition Center in Happy Camp (64101 Second Avenue). The center is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will remain open longer if needed due to smoky conditions.

An evacuation advisory, issued August 13, 2014, continues for residents of Happy Camp along China Grade Road from Elk Creek Bridge to Frying Pan Creek. China Grade Road is open to residents only.

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