By Linda Martin
I haven’t received any new official Forest Service news updates about the fire, so I’ll share with you what I’ve heard. So far the only evacuations that have taken place are those along Elk Creek Road, south of town. Residents living past Five Mile Bridge have been asked to leave voluntarily. The Titus Fire is heading east toward Elk Creek. Miners and campers have been forced to leave the area, and access to Norcross Campground is no longer allowed.
Meanwhile the Little Grider Fire in the hills west of Happy Camp continues to grow. At this point hundreds of fire fighters have been redirected from other areas in our forest and are nowÂ gathered hereÂ to help save the town of Happy Camp from incineration. The fire is moving toward Buckhorn Road, and the residents in the Live Oak area may be asked to evacuate within the next 24 hours. This will impact approximately thirty families. An oldÂ logging road in that area is being widened and fires are being set to burn out brush in the area, in hopes of slowing the Little Grider Fire as it heads toward this populated area on the west side of Indian Creek. Smoke coming from the top of the hill above the airport is most likely being intentionally set by fire fighters.
Smoke conditions this morning wereÂ not favorable for flying, but helicoptersÂ are now dropping water on the fire, including a Sky Crane Tanker with 2500-gallon capacity, a CH53 Super Stallion Tanker, and at least three other smaller capacity helicopters with 100 to 250-gallon buckets. Fixed wing aircraft with fire retardantÂ are not being used, most likely because of the terrain being unsafe for them.
The Forest Service is posting updates online at Elk Complex Updates. According to the most recent update the Little Grider Fire covers about 636 acres, and continues to burn downhill towards Perkins Gulch. The Titus Fire covers approximately 1408 acres. It burned over Titus Peak towards Elk Creek yesterday and lines have been constructed around homes in the area.
Long time residents of Happy Camp are not worried. They remember the fires of 1987 when flames threatened the town from Slater Ridge and evacuations were considered. The people I’ve talked to who have been here long enough to remember that fire, twenty years ago, believe that the fire fighters are competent and able to save their homes. I hear this even from people whose homes seem to be in the path of the fire. Others who haven’t experienced fires so close to their homes seem far more concerned.