Firefighters Reduce Threat To Happy Camp From The Eclipse Complex Fires

Aug 23, 2017

Please see our California Wildfire Roundup post for the latest updates on this fire ...

UPDATE: WEDNESDAY, AUG. 23 ... The Eclipse Complex consists of five fires in the Klamath National Forest. The fires have burned a total of 37,445 acres; the complex is 19% contained, with 1,130 personnel assigned. 

Firefighters have made good progress constructing lines around the eastern and southeastern perimeter of the Oak fire, reducing the threat to the community of Happy Camp. The air quality in Happy Camp and Seaid Valley continues to register Unhealthy to Hazardous conditions.

The Cedar fire has remained under an inversion which continues to moderate the fire, but predicted instability and stronger winds could increase fire behavior.  

The Prescott fire continues to spread towards the Clear fire and deeper into the Siskiyou Wilderness. Late afternoon west winds may begin to clear the air.

Community Meeting:  There will be a public meeting tonight at 6:00 pm at the Seiad Volunteer Fire Department. This meeting is scheduled to provide updated information to the public about the fires in the Eclipse Complex. 

Residents should be aware that they may see fire engines and crews in their neighborhoods. They are working to identify structure location and what it would take to protect them in case of wildfire. Their presence is a precautionary measure and will be a benefit for future safety planning needs. If the fire is approaching and could become a threat to your property, you will be contacted. Crews are also working on Titus Ridge to clear roads and reopen old firelines as a contingency line on the east side of the Klamath river.

Traffic Conditions: Highway 96 has traffic controls from about 2.5 miles west/south of Happy Camp to just south of the Clear Creek Ranch.  There may be one-way controlled traffic behind a pilot car or even temporary closures of the highway, depending on fire activity.  This closure will be in place for as long as it takes the Oak Fire to back down to the highway.

UPDATE: TUESDAY, AUG. 22 ... Firefighters made good progress on Monday tying the Oak fire line into Highway 96, keeping the fire outside of Happy Camp, but  evacuation warnings still hold for residents located southwest of Happy Camp, from the southwest side of the airport through the Clear Creek area.  Notifications are being made as appropriate, based on current fire conditions, for people in these areas to be prepared to evacuate, should it be necessary.

The Eclipse Complex consists of five fires and has burned a total of 36,900 acres; the complex is 19% contained, with 1,081 personnel assigned. The Cedar fire has remained under inversions which has generally moderated the fire, but predicted instability and stronger winds could increase fire behavior.  The Prescott fire continues to spread towards the Clear fire and deeper into the Siskiyou Wilderness.

Traffic Conditions: Highway 96 has traffic controls from about 2.5 miles west/south of Happy Camp for about 6.6 miles to just south of the Clear Creek Ranch.  There may be one way controlled traffic behind a pilot car or even temporary closures of the highway, depending on fire activity.  This closure will be in place for as long as it takes the Oak Fire to back down to the highway.

Emergency Closure Orders: Closures have been executed for roads and trails near many of the wildfires including some parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, closing them to public entry to provide for safety.  Additional information about the closures and the fires is available at the Inciweb link: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5511/, and at key locations in Happy Camp and Seiad Valley.

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUG. 21 ...  The fires of the Eclipse Complex, burning since Aug. 15 in the Klamath National Forest, has doubled in size over the weekend. Early Monday afternoon, an Evacuation Warning was issued for residents located southwest of Happy Camp.

The Eclipse Complex now consists of five fires and has burned a total of 35,040 acres; the complex is 19% contained, with 986 personnel assigned. The East and Cedar fires have now merged.  The Prescott fire continues to grow in the Siskiyou Wilderness and south and east towards the Clear fire.  The Oak fire is the highest priority for fire fighters, who are working to construct fire lines along the eastern boundary.  By tonight, it will probably have reached Highway 96, where fire fighters will use strategic ignitions to hold the fire.  Smoke from the complex and other fires in the region will be the main weather factor, moderating fire behavior.  Staying indoors to avoid the smoke, and reducing physical activity, are the best ways to protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. 

Evacuation Warning: Evacuation Warnings have been issued to residents located southwest of Happy Camp, on the southwest side of the Happy Camp airport and in the Clear Creek area. Notifications are being made as appropriate, based on current fire conditions, for people in these areas to be prepared to evacuate, should it be necessary.

Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham said: “While our plan is a good one, and we don’t think the fire will reach town, it is always much better to have folks prepared for leaving just in case”. The Oak Fire spotted outside of containment lines on the southeast corner due to winds on Saturday evening. Firefighters are engaged in containing the fire on an alternate line further to the east that will tie into Highway 96, keeping the fire outside of Happy Camp.

An Evacuation Warning means that you should be prepared to evacuate. Law enforcement and incident personnel will attempt to make personal visits to each residence and business in the areas of concern. Residents are responsible to make arrangements to move personal property and livestock. Residents need to make sure they have all of their valuables ready, along with medications and other critical belongings in case they have to be evacuated in the future. Some residents, primarily those with special health needs or other concerns, should relocate during this stage of evacuation.

Should it be required, the next stage would be an Evacuation Order. This means that evacuation is necessary in order to protect the lives of area occupants and emergency personnel responding to the incident. Law enforcement and incident personnel will attempt to convey this information to citizens door to door in person and also through telephone notifications.

Siskiyou County has instituted a rapid emergency notification service called CodeRED® which would be implemented if there was an Evacuation Order. CodeRED® employs an internet mapping capability for geographic targeting of calls, coupled with a high speed telephone calling system capable of delivering customized emergency messages directly to homes and businesses at a rate of 1,000 calls per minute. For more information, or to register for CodeRED go to: http://www.co.siskiyou.ca.us/content/emergency-information.

Information to help you prepare for a possible evacuation can be found at: http://www.readyforwildfire.org/Pre-Evacuation-Preparation/.

Traffic Conditions: Traffic on Highway 96 southbound of Happy Camp may be affected by fire suppression activities. For the safety of the public and firefighters, traffic controls on Highway 96 is planned for this evening at 6:00 PM, pending fire conditions.  Because of the smoky conditions and fire equipment on the roadways, drivers are urged to please drive carefully, staying aware of traffic control measures.

Fire Prevention Starts with the Homeowner:  Flying embers and creeping ground fires are significant contributors to the loss of the majority of homes to wildfires. Homeowners should take the time to become aware of safety and preventative measures to protect their homes. These small tasks can greatly increase the chance of your home surviving when a wildfire threatens. More specific measures to protect your home can be found at https://www.nifc.gov/prevEdu/prevEdu_main.html.

Emergency Closure Orders: Closures have been executed for roads and trails near many of the wildfires including some parts of the Pacific Crest Trail, closing them to public entry to provide for safety. If you are planning to visit the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District for hunting, please be aware of road, trail and area closures.  Additional information about the closures and the fires is available at the Inciweb link: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5511/, and at key locations in Happy Camp and Seiad Valley.

ORIGINAL POST:, FRIDAY, AUG. 18 ... The Eclipse Complex in Klamath National Forest has burned a total of 17,501 acres and is 15% contained.

Yesterday, the Prescott and Oak fires continued to burn aggressively due to hotter, dryer and windier conditions.  The Prescott Fire continues to move to the east towards the Clear fire, but remains within the Siskiyou Wilderness.  It is about 7,850 acres in size, and 0% contained. There are no official closures, but hikers should be aware of a fire advisory for the Siskiyou Wilderness. These fires are uncontrolled which poses an inherent risk as they have the potential in this area to expand and move across the landscape, sometimes very rapidly.

The Oak fire primarily grew to the west, away from the town of Happy Camp, burning over Baldy Mountain Ridge and into Five Mile Creek. The Oak fire is about 2,260 acres and 0% contained.  An Emergency Closure Order will be issued soon for all or portions of eleven roads located between Happy Camp, Baldy Mountain Lookout, and Wingate Bar in the vicinity of the Oak Fire.  Crews will work today to continue to hold existing containment lines.
 
The Cedar fire, located about eight miles northwest of Seiad Valley, is approximately 618 acres and 0% contained. It is spreading slowly to the south.  Klamath National Forest Emergency Closure Order No. 14-05-798 and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Emergency Closure No. 06-10-22-17-14 closes 30 roads on the Klamath National Forest; three roads on the Siskiyou National Forest; and 15 trails, including the Boundary Trail west of the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail.
 
The Clear fire, located about seven miles southwest of Happy Camp, remains at 6,700 acres with 79% containment.  Resources continue to work to mop up areas along containment lines.  Road and trail closures have been in effect since August 1 (Emergency Closure Order No. 17-05-796) including the Bear Peak and Clear Creek Roads, the Bear Creek/Kelsey National Recreation Trail, West Fork Trail and a portion of the Clear Creek Trail; and No Mans Trailhead and Campground and Elbow Springs Trailhead.
 
Two additional, small lightening fires have been added to the complex, the Four Mile and the East, totaling 73 acres with 0% containment.

Additional information about road and trail closures and about the fires is available on the U.S. Forest Service – Klamath National Forest website and Facebook page, on Inciweb, and at key locations in Happy Camp and Seiad Valley.  

Information can also be obtained from the Fire Information Office in Happy Camp at (530) 493-1520 or from the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District at (530) 493-2243.

To provide for public safety, Emergency Closure Orders have been executed for roads and trails near many of the wildfires, closing them to public entry.  Wildfires can be unpredictable and dangerous.  If you are planning to visit the Happy Camp/Oak Knoll Ranger District for recreation, hunting or other activities, be alert for road, trail and area closures and check with the Ranger District at (530) 493-2243 before you