Elk Complex Fire’s New Team Updates Happy Camp Meeting

The crwods are thinning at the Happy Camp Town Meetings at the Grange. There was no one from the Sheriff’s Department to tell us about evacuations. There was no one from Emergency Services telling us where to go for emergency shelter if we had to leave our homes. There was not even anyone from Mike Dietrich’s Team 1 National Team as they completed their two weeks and went home, or are going home now. Yesterday Kent Swartzlander, who was the original Incident commander on this fire, took over again.

Phulis Swanson, with Park Service patch on her shoulder, introduced the speakers. Don Hall, Deputy District Ranger for the Happy Camp District had just returned from a few days off. We were glad to see Don back, and glad that he had some time off and time for photos and jazz and “non-fire” activities.

Kent Swarzlander showed how all the fire’s are contained. There is a little concern on the east side of the Wingate/King/Titus whjere the fire had been spotty and some fuels left. But all in all, it is under control at this time. Even the little 80 acre Hummingbird Fire, although it never had bulldozers working on it has remained right at 80 acres and isn’t going anywhere. They need to keep monitoring, patrolling and mopping up. But with due diligence, it is not expected that anything will get away with flaring up and causing more problems.

 Harold Tripp mentioned that all the smoke is down in Somes Bar. That’s not pleasant, but the smoke has to go somewhere. Harold mentioned that he used to be against the backburn but has seen how well it works and has won him over.

Staffing on the fires is down from about 1200 to 900 and will likely go down to 500 strong before next weekend.  There was concern about repair and restoration that will be discussed further at the next meeting. The most common comment was to thank the firefighters, for their work and skills and professionalism. We also appreciate their help in keeping us informed about what was happening.

ONE LAST THING, is the appreciation for our own Fire Safe Council. Without the work that they and the Forest Service have done in removing fuels for a perimeter around our community this story could have had a much more disastrous ending. Duane put up a sign to thank the Fire Fighters, but we need to thank Duane Armbruster, George Harper, Carol Sharpe and all the people working on the Fire Safe Council helping year round to have our community prepared in the case of (inevitably) a wildfire. Tell them, “Thanks” when you see them, and volunteer to help them.. Next time, you may be glad that you did!!

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