by Judy Bushy
Grange Town Meeting 8/9/2018
Thursday many Happy Camp residents gathered at the Grange, just like in the old days. We were, of course, accompanied by a host of “Fire people!”Scott Blower, who is the Acting Happy Camp District Ranger for the Klamath National Forest gave a welcome and introduced dozen or so who would be available for questions. It is great to meet the personnel who are handling our Natchez Fire. I say “our” fire, but technically, it began in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and Merv George was here from the RR-S. Patricia Grantham, our own Klamath Forest Supervisor was also present and we’ve so enjoyed seeing her a couple times a week lately. Neal comes with her as the Public Information Officer and is helpful with questions as well.
Penny Bertram is the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 working on the fire and was facilitator to introduce Andy Huntsberger who is Northern Rockies Operations and has been “on the ground” up there at the Natchez Fire! On t he North end Division S is looking good. Originally it had jumped handlines painstakingly put in place but they did it again and the lines are holding. Across Division A (Alpha) there had been a couple area spotting the other day but now A to F were fully secured and looking good but the main concern is the Runaway Point at the South. Also most of the residences and the town of Happy Camp is on the south so of concern. They don’t want it to get south of South Fork of Indian Creek and are holding it ther. Division J (Juliet) very challenging as it has large trees, dense vegetation and challenging, steep terrain but they are trying to go right on! They were also putting in contingency lines, put in during the Eclipse fire a couple of years ago. So the Natchez hasn’t reached the place where we were beginning a couple of years ago when the fire threatened the town.
Hunter Bell continues his structure protection with the Contingency group.. One good thing they announced how important is is for people to put their house numbers plainly seen on their homes. I wonder if the Seiad Fire Safe Council still sells them. Perhaps they will have a booth at Seiad Days a week from Saturday on the 25th at the Fire Hall in Seiad Valley. With the Bigfoot Jamboree postponed from Labor Day Weekend, many people are planning to take the kids (and go dinner and dancing with their sweethearts) at the Seiad Valley Day a week from Saturday. The Parade starts at 10 o’clock but you need to be earlier to get a good “spot”, if you want a good “seat” bring your own!
Incident Commander Trainee with the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1, Mark Goelier answered questions. Mark has been working his way up to this position for 17 years, so he has plenty of experience in fighting these fires! He mentioned that we are at Level five for Fire Season, with lots of teams and crews competition for resources! There are 21 large fires in Washington and Oregon and five large fires in California. Of most concern is 8,000 personnel on the Carr Fire of Redding and Mendocino Complex which are both south of us. Mark mentioned that this is a strong aggressive team and using every viable opportunity that is safe to stop this fire. He also mentioned that they greatly appreciate the work with cooperation of the locals who have been helpful information and resources. They all know what it is like to be in this situation with wildfire in our backyard!
It is so neat to see the Fire Fighters, especially when they stop by Marble Mountain Gift for coffee and we have a chance to chat. We usually don’t have so much traffic along Davis Road each morning and evening but it is heartening to see them going by, up to put in long hours of hard work on the fire, or returning tired from their labors and ready for food and rest! We appreciate that way they emphasize they “got to secure these lines” and recognize there may be latent fires we can’t see which is why they are flying every night with infa-red to get pictures of hotspots. Blue Ridge Hotshots came in Thursday and a couple more crews were expected Friday. Australian crew came in Wednesday.
It was good to have Merv George, Supervisor on the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest north of us. Officer Monday with the California Highway Patrol was there, and Sheriff’s Deputy Garrison updated their actions keeping up on the fire. Tom Mopas had been to a previous Town Meeting and Eric Haskell , Happy Camp Volunteer Fire Chief has more face masks and they are also at Marble Mountain Gift Co. It is good to see so many taking part in the Town Meeting, and you know you can ask a question afterwards.
The only place evacuation warning thus far was Sunstar, a tiny community on the outskirts of Takilma in Oregon, and those on Happy Camp’s South Fork of Indian Creek left earlier to be safe. THANKS TO ALL THE HARD, AND CHALLENGING WORK OF THE FIRE FIGHTERS!!