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What we know about forest fires in the North State on Tuesday

Mike Chapman
Redding Record Searchlight
Crews made great progress on the Miners Fire Tuesday. The fire is 22 acres with 80% containment. Precipitation last night and yesterdays storm helped with gaining some containment. Crews continue to mop up hot spots and strengthen containment, CAL FIRE reported.

Lightning-caused fires continued to burn Tuesday in northeastern California with one blaze forcing the evacuation of a small, historic community in Modoc County.

The Caldwell Fire is part of the July Complex of fires near Canby at the Siskiyou-Modoc county line. Lightning started the series of fires last Wednesday and so far 70,622 acres have burned tall, dry grass, brush and timber, according to the Modoc National Forest.

On the north side of the fire, firefighters planned to create control lines where tules in the marshes are prone to catching fire.

"Crews will work to anchor the fire at the water," officials said.

Crews have zero containment of the Caldwell blaze while progress was made on two other fires in the July Complex. The 966-acre Allen Fire was 80% contained while the 1,397-acre Dalton Fire was 90% contained Tuesday morning. Fire lines have been built around both of those fires' perimeters.

Meanwhile, lightning strikes started a new fire called the Gillam Fire in the July Complex. That fire was 500 acres Tuesday northeast of the Caldwell Fire and crews were working on control lines.

The small town of Tionesta remained under mandatory evacuation orders due to the Caldwell Fire, which had grown to 67,789 acres as of Tuesday morning and is the largest blaze in the July Complex.

The fire made a run toward Highway 139 and crossed the railroad tracks, leading to the town's evacuation. Highway 97 was shut down in the fire area.

"Firefighters are working aggressively to implement control measures and structure protection is in place where needed," Modoc forest officials said Monday.

By Tuesday, the fire's threat to Tionesta on the east side was "significantly diminished" as firefighters prevented the fire from spreading into town, officials said. 

Officials said firefighters did "point-to-point structure protection" by going from building to building and removing burnable material to reduce the fire risk.

The community is at the southern end of the Lava Beds National Monument and has a number of historical buildings, according to ghosttowns.com. Tionesta, with a population of 30, is a few miles west of Timber Mountain where a mill caught on fire around 1942 and destroyed the entire community, the website says.

Fire crews got a break Monday as rain helped to calm Monday's fire activity.

"Crews will be taking advantage of more favorable conditions to get increase containment," fire officials said.

The respite could be brief as forecasters predict very hot, dry and breezy conditions possibly creating red-flag conditions as the week continues.

Meanwhile, the fire danger has diminished in the Tulelake area as evacuations and warnings there have been lifted. Residents have been allowed to return to their property that borders the Modoc forest and Lava Beds National Monument as well as property in the Copic, Panhandle and Peninsula areas south of Highway 139, fire officials said.

Control lines were holding Tuesday at the Lava Beds National Monument Visitors Center and headquarters where firefighters lit backfires to protect the buildings.

Aircraft fought the Caldwell Fire until weather conditions forced pilots to turn back. Some 1,583 personnel have been assigned to the July Complex, including 91 engines, 23 bulldozers and 32 water tenders.

Elsewhere on the Modoc National Forest, crews are busy with 19 separate lightning-caused fires that range from single trees to the 234-acre Canyon Fire.

Gold Fire

Crews were using a break in the weather to improve fire lines and extinguish areas burning within the fire's perimeter. However, firefighters have been told to expect gusty afternoon winds and dry conditions the rest of the week.

The blaze has been burning where there are private homes, ranches and commercial operations.

Evacuation orders and warnings remain in place.

Size: 21,870 acres

Containment: 65%

Location: Highway 139 and County Road A-2, south of Adin, in northern Lassen County

Start date: July 20

Cause: Under investigation

Evacuation orders, warnings and road closures are listed at https://bit.ly/3hHyhQX

Damage: 13 structures destroyed; five structures damaged

Injuries: 3

Personnel and equipment: 2,142 people, 46 crews, 170 engines, 19 helicopters, 46 water tenders

Hog Fire

Crews strengthened control lines Monday night into Tuesday. Highways 36 and 44 have reopened to through traffic but motorists might see smoke and flames from logging slash, brush and timber that continue to burn and smolder.

County Road A-1 remains closed north of the water tanks.

All evacuation orders have been lifted and residents can return to their homes. Officials warn that warm and breezy conditions could increase the risk of more fire activity.

Size: 9,545 acres

Containment: 69%

Location: Hog Flat Reservoir, west of Susanville, in southern Lassen County

Start date: July 18

Cause: Under investigation

Evacuation warnings are listed at https://bit.ly/305CSX1

Damage: Two structures destroyed

Personnel and equipment: 1,830 people, 34 crews, 150 engines, 33 water tenders, 10 bulldozers

Bridge Fire

Crews on Tuesday stopped the forward spread of a wildfire that started Monday night near Packers Bay at Lake Shasta.

Firefighters completed a hoseline around the fire and were working on building a handline.

Size: 16 acres

Containment: 10%

Location: South side of O'Brien Mountain at Lake Shasta on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest

Start date: July 27

Cause: Lightning

Personnel and equipment: 110 people, 13 engines, two crews and a water tender

Badger Fire

Size: 557 acres

Containment: 99%

Location: Badger Mountain and Hawkinsville-Humbug Road, several miles north of Yreka in Siskiyou County

Start date: July 18

Cause: Under investigation

Platina Fire

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has the fire fully contained but firefighters will continue to patrol the area.

Size: 340 acres

Containment: 100%

Location: Platina and Big Foot roads, 21 miles southwest of Redding in southwestern Shasta County

Start date: July 19

Cause: Under investigation

Damage: No structures destroyed

Injuries: 5 (minor injuries; the firefighters have been treated and released)

Mike Chapman is a reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash.