by Linda Martin
Planes taking off from Happy Camp’s airport roared overhead just before sunset on Wednesday, August 15. All that noise and a cloud of rising white smoke north of town alerted us to the first major fire in the region this year. Those closer to the blaze said it turned the skies red.
Dubbed “Larry’s Fire” — the blaze broke out at 6:05 pm about 6/10 of a mile north of Larry’s Market on Indian Creek Road. A cigarette tossed from a passing car apparently ignited the fire.
Before it was done, Larry’s Fire blackened 8 to 10 acres of forested hillside land. Traffic was diverted from the area with only residents allowed through, and some of the nearby housing was evacuated.
Meanwhile a power outage darkened all of Happy Camp except for a few places that had prepared by installing generators. The only businesses that remained open were the Pizza House and Double J Sports & Spirits where camping lanterns provided enough light for shoppers to buy needed groceries. Power was restored in the middle of the night, after lines damaged by the fire had been replaced.
Thanks to a quick response by local firefighters who have prepared for a severe fire season, the blaze was controlled within a few hours and mop up crews entered the area before midnight. The highway patrol continued to regulate traffic and assist fire crews throughout the night and the next morning.
Because rainfall has been extremely sparse this year, fire danger is higher than usual. The forest service is working on a double ring of fire break lines to surround Happy Camp, but the work will not be completed for several more years. A new Fire Safe Council has been formed in Happy Camp this year to help in fire prevention and education.
Trucks lined up near the forest service office the day after the fire
Lairy Dobbins, his grandson, and his water truck