Klamathon Fire Destroys 40 Buildings, Heads Into Oregon

Jul 6, 2018

A northern California wildfire has spread into Oregon, triggering evacuations in parts of Jackson County.

As of 7 a.m. Saturday, the Klamathon Fire has burned about 21,800 acres and is 5 percent contained. About 40 structures have burned, many in the California towns of Hilt and Hornbrook.

A Hornbrook resident has also died; CalFire officials discovered the body Friday morning in a building destroyed by the fire. They have not yet identified the body.

CalFire held a press conference in Yreka Friday evening. The agency will update the public every night at 6 p.m. “as long as it’s necessary,” CalFire Battalion Chief Tim Chavez said.

Between 600 and 700 firefighters are battling the Klamathon Fire, and those numbers are expected to “double, if not triple,” Chavez said.

Hornbrook will likely be without water and electricity for a couple days, Siskiyou County Sheriff John Lopey said. Still, about 30 residents refused to leave their homes.

“We gave all those individuals that chose not to evacuate the opportunity to go to the shelter that is currently here in Yreka,” he said. “Most declined.”

That shelter is located at the Jackson Street Elementary School in Yreka. There is also a shelter in Oregon at the Ashland High School.

The fire began near Hornbrook Thursday afternoon and headed north following the Interstate 5 freeway. Heavy winds and dry conditions pushed the region into a Red Flag Warning — meaning the wildfire had a high risk of spreading. That alert ended Friday evening as northwest winds began to slow down. 

Jackson County has one Level 3 evacuation order — meaning "go now" — for Colestin Road and Highway 99 from the California border to Mt. Ashland Ski Road.

The county has a Level 2 evacuation for Mt. Ashland Ski Road from the ski resort to Highway 99, and Highway 99 from Mt. Ashland Ski Road to the 6700-block.

There are also evacuation orders for residents in Hornbrook, Hilt, Colestin and Irongate. There are evacuation warnings for residents east of the Yreka Western Railroad to the Irongate Reservoir. About 750 people have had to evacuate their homes, according to CalFire.  

The fire is threatening endangered species habitats in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Forest and the Soda Mountain Wilderness. It's also threatening two cell towers.

Siskiyou County residents with pets should contact the Siskiyou County Humane Society on Facebook. Residents with livestock should contact the Siskiyou County Animal Shelter, which is transporting large animals to the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said a firefighter had died. According to a CalFire summary sheet on the Klamathon fire, a firefighter has either died or been injured. We're seeking clarification from CalFire.