Elk Complex Fire Updated at Friday’s Happy Camp Meeting

Friday’s Town Hall meeting at the Happy Camp Grange was smaller than previous meetings. While it is encouraging that the residents of Happy Camp feel safer, communication is a vital part of being in the midst of a wildfire crisis. The threat is abated with the rain and cooler temperatures, but with another two months of fire season to go, and several active fires in the vicinity, the crisis isn’t over yet.

Don Hall, Deputy District Ranger, spoke to the questions about what ‘you guys’ are doing. He drove down Curly Jack showing the Klamath National Forest Supervisor what was happening and there were hotshot crews next door to his own home. Teams were going door to door on Curly Jack Road, Division L for evacuation purposes, and informing residents of precautions and preparations. At his home, in the early morning hours, smoke was wafting up from the Wingate, also. So it isn’t ‘those guys’ – it is our neighbors involved. Those from far away usually live in a place where they also experience this same crisis. So the people making the decisions about this fire are not only considering public safety from a professional level but also feel it very personally.

Just a few days ago the wind was 20 to 30 mph, the temperatures were going over 100, we had raging crown fires and lots of smoke. They were planning to build a protected box like area around the town.

Then the rain slowed things down. The crews didn’t sit back and relax. They have put in 30 miles of bulldozer line and 34 miles of hand lines and brush clearing. That’s a lot of hard work but the forest dries out fast at 100-degree heat. On Wednesday afternoon the Wingate fire had showed what it could do when it traveled 2+½ miles in four hours! We are grateful for only one additional injury and that it was minor.

They are ready to go on more direct attack where possible. In some areas that are ‘steeper than a cow’s face’ Dietrich said that they are too steep and too isolated and couldn’t get a dozer in unless they park it in the river, ‘which is not cool.’ Firefighters are too dear to risk to rock climbing challenges. As Incident commander, Mike Dietrich also mentioned that everyone in the country is working with fires in Idaho, Utah and Nevada as well as elsewhere.

Sheriff’s Dept, Sgt John Evans said Seiad School remains the emergency evacuation site and signs have been posted. Be prepared, and once you do clear evacuation areas, keep the roads clear and don’t block the firefighters work.

Kirk Eadie, Assistant Chief of the Happy Camp Volunteers, also said we need to keep “heads up”. Keep informed. Be ready and be prepared. We appreciate Mike Dietrich and his team keeping us informed so we don’t fall to senseless rumors but can know the truth.

Harold Tripp, with the Karuk Tribe, said it is great working on this team with Don and Alan, Happy Camp District Ranger. His job is to inform firefighting teams about protecting any cultural sensitive areas and he was glad that the fire has not destroyed any sites. The dozer lines are following previous lines as much as possible.

Questions from the gathered Happy Camp citizens involved bringing their horses home, how long the river would be closed to rafting, and how the fire will affect the river view. Many questions have to wait to see what happens in the next four or five days but the team is doing all it can to limit the intensity and severity of damage to as much land as possible and ensure public safety and protect lives of both community and firefighters. Thankfully injuries have been minor considering the harsh terrain where the fires are located. Next meeting is scheduled at the Grange on Tuesday, July 24th at 7 o’clock.

Elk Fire Complex Update From The Forest Service

Total Complex Acreage: 8,327 acres

Incident Resources: 1,122 personnel

Total Complex Containment: 15%

Expected Full Containment: 7/29/2007

Cost to Date: $4,300,000

Injuries to Date (minor): 6

Structures Threatened: 550

The top priority is the protection of the Happy Camp, Hamburg, and Elk Creek communities. Yesterday, line construction progress was made on the larger fires of the complex (see list below).

Moisture from the recent rain helped in the firefighting effort. However, the respite was short lived. As conditions dry, the fire is becoming noticeably more active and trees have started torching. Smoke from the fires will become more visible and health issues may again be of concern.

As conditions change, local communities will be updated regularly. The public is invited to attend another informational meeting at the Happy Camp Grange this Friday at 7 p.m.

A new call center with the latest information has been established in the Klamath National Forest Supervisor’s Office at (530) 841- 4451.

Complex Fire Details

Defensive lines around the following fires are being prepared for a burning operation when conditions become favorable:

Little Grider Fire (approx. 1298 acres)

King Creek II Fire (approx. 2779 acres): Firefighters are planning to work directly on the fire’s edge.

Wingate (approx. 909 acres)

Elk Fire (approx. 1166 acres)

Titus Fire (approx. 2026 acres): There is also a recommended evacuation for homeowners, campers, and miners from Five Mile Bridge to Norcross Campground on the Elk Creek Road. Firelines have been constructed around structures.

The following smaller fires have been contained and will continue to be monitored, patrolled and staffed as resources allow:
Tom Marten Fire (approx. 31 acres)
Clear Fire (approx. 38 acres)

California Earthquakes

Jim Berkland of beautiful Glen Ellen, California, seems like a nice down-to-earth guy. He is a former geologist for Santa Clara County and runs the SyzygyJob.Org earthquake prediction website.

He claims to have predicted the series of earthquakes that took place in Northern and Southern California in the last few days. Have you felt any of them?

This data, from the USGS earthquake database on November 1, 2001 at 09:17 a.m. EDT, shows a series of quakes from 3.0 to 5.4 magnitude in California:

2001/10/30 03:24:29 24.17N 109.02W 10.0
2001/10/30 12:58:32 34.35N 116.47W 9.4
2001/10/30 19:38:34 38.77N 122.73W 2.5
2001/10/30 21:07:43 38.84N 122.78W 2.3
2001/10/31 07:56:16 33.50N 116.52W 14.2

Berkland states that a series of small quakes indicate that there’s still unrest down below. If you’re living where the fault is slipping regularly, you’re unlikely to get large quakes, as this relieves the strain. The greatest concern now is between the California towns of Parkfield and Palmdale.

Could an earthquake happen in the area of Happy Camp? The answer is yes. There are earthquake faults all over the United States, except an area around the Dakotas and in Southern Florida. Pressure is building up under the volcanoes at Sisters, Oregon, where the ground is beginning to bulge ominously. Release of this pressure in volcanic activity could set off earthquakes in surrounding areas.

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