UPDATE: Help on way as McFarland Fire exceeds 1,000 acres with 5% containment in Trinity County
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An incident management team was due to arrive Saturday to take command of operations on the McFarland Fire in Trinity County, which grew to more than 1,000 acres as of Saturday morning.
The 1,079-acre blaze two miles south of Highway 36 was 5% contained. It's burning in a dry and densely forested area that has not seen fire in about 50 years, Shasta-Trinity National Forest spokesman Adrienne Freeman said.
Firefighters on the ground are being helped by helicopters and planes from the air.
"Ground and air resources have been aggressively attacking it since it started (Thursday) night," fire officials said.
Firefighters are facing challenging conditions due to the hot weather, low humidity and the threat of ember-pushing winds.
"A Red Flag Warning is in effect with more lightning expected (Saturday), bringing concerns of gusty erratic winds," officials said.
Evacuation warnings remain in effect by the Trinity County Sheriff's Office for Wildwood and the south end of Deerlick Springs Road plus both sides of Highway 36.
A downstrike started the blaze south of Highway 36 near Wildwood after a lightning storm passed over the western side of the forest on Thursday. The wildfire is not far from the Shasta and Trinity county line, near McFarland Ridge and Baker Flat, west of Platina.
The McFarland Fire spread rapidly after it grew to about 50 acres just before 8 a.m. Friday. A Forest Service update about 9 a.m. estimated the fire was 100 acres. By mid-afternoon the acreage had grown to 600 acres. A 10 p.m. update said the blaze was 1,000 acres.
Lightning downstrikes started at least six other fires, forest officials said.
"More fires may be detected as lightning is predicted to continue for the next several days," officials said. "All detected fires, regardless of location, are being managed under full suppression strategies."
For the hard-to-access Monument Fire (formerly named the Panther Fire), crews will rely on existing dozer lines in an old fire scar from 2008 to contain the flames, officials said.
The Monument Fire was burning 70 acres on a slope on the south side of the Trinity River south of Del Loma. Aircraft were making drops and smokejumpers were on order.
The fire was burning on a slope on the south side of the Trinity River south of Del Loma. Aircraft were making drops and smokejumpers were on order.
1:30 p.m. Saturday UPDATE
Three other lightning-caused fires are in the Mount Shasta Management Unit:
- Tamarack Fire east of Parks Creek was 6.5 acres and 45% contained Saturday. Burning debris was rolling down the steep terrain as crews were completing a hose lay.
- Cement FIre below Cement Bluff was one-tenth of an acre and 80% contained, staffed by smokejumpers.
- Deadfall Fire above Deadfall Lake and next to the Pacific Crest Trail was one-tenth of an acre and 80% contained. It's also being handled by smokejumpers while the trail remains open.
Mike Chapman is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Support local journalism by subscribing today.