Three nearby fires cause hazy skies

Skye Kinkade
From Old Highway 99 near Stewart Springs Road, smoke can be seen rising from the Parks Creek Complex, which was first reported just before midnight on Sunday, Aug. 5. Because there are no nearby roads, firefighters have been forced to walk in and plumb water to the fire, which was 75 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, Aug. 7.

Mt. Shasta area skies have been alternately smoky and clear over the past week as firefighters worked to extinguish three fires: the Salt Creek Fire in northern Shasta County along Interstate 5, the Dillon Fire near Happy Camp, and the Parks Creek Complex that’s burning about nine miles west of Weed.

Despite temperatures in the upper 90s as well as some windy conditions and the possibility of dry lightening, firefighters have been making progress in controlling each of the fires, which all burned on National Forest land.

Salt Creek Fire

First sparked Wednesday of last week, the Salt Creek Fire closed Interstate 5 in both directions on Thursday for several hours due to heavy smoke causing zero visibility on the road.

The fire, which burned in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, is now fully contained, though smoke will continue to rise as firefighters mop up the area, according to the US Forest Service’s online incident information system, InciWeb.

Approximately 100 structures were threatened by the fire, and at least one building was destroyed by the blaze. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to InciWeb.

Homes in the Gilman Road area were evacuated, and major power lines were threatened by the fire, which grew to 930 acres before being fully contained.

Traffic was rerouted through Highways 89 and 299 on Thursday, trapping Siskiyou County residents in at Antlers near Redding unless they opted for a longer drive home.

When there is no longer a foreseeable threat of the fire escaping the containment lines, the fire will deemed controlled, the US Forest Service stated. CAL FIRE crews are assisting in firefighting operations.

Dillon Fire

In the Klamath and Six Rivers national forests, the 318 acre Dillon Fire, which is burning along Highway 96, approximately 15 miles southwest of Happy Camp, forced a closure of a 20 miles stretch of the highway over the weekend. As of Tuesday morning, the Dillon Fire was 90 percent contained, according to InciWeb.

The cause of the fire is listed as human and is still under investigation. The Dillon Fire started as a series of approximately 20 fires on Saturday, Aug. 4, along Highway 96. Most of the fires were quickly contained, according to the Forest Service, but two of them grew into larger fires.

Cooperating agencies include CAL FIRE, Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol, the Karuk Tribe and the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

Traffic control remained in effect on Tuesday, with piloted, one-way traffic between Coon Creek and Ti-Bar.

Parks Creek Complex

Just before midnight on Sunday, the Parks Creek Complex was reported about nine miles west of Weed in the Parks Creek drainage area.

The complex consists of three separate fires burning in close proximity, according to InciWeb. As of Tuesday morning, it had grown to 10 acres and was 75 percent contained.

There is no road access to the fires, so US Forest Service and CAL FIRE crews were forced to walk in and plumb water. A containment line has been completed around the fire, but much work is required to keep it inside the line, according to the Forest Service. Burning in an old fire scar with many snags, firefighters are challenged as burning material continues to be thrown across the line.

The cause of the Parks Creek Complex in the Shasta Trinity National Forest is still under investigation.