Klamathon Fire at 30,000 acres, nearly 1,400 evacuated

Danielle Jester/Siskiyou Daily News
Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey speaks to the crowd during an update on the Klamathon Fire at the Yreka Community Theater on Saturday, July 7, 2018. He was joined by fire and law enforcement personnel from throughout the state.

Fire personnel reported Saturday evening that the Klamathon Fire had burned 21,803 acres and was 20 percent contained.

But Sunday morning’s incident update from CAL FIRE showed the fire had grown to more than 30,000 acres and was 25 percent contained.

During a community update Saturday evening at the Yreka Community Theater, CAL FIRE reported that the most significant area of fire activity on Saturday was on the eastern edge of the blaze, near Iron Gate. Contingency lines to the north are being planned should the weather change.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said 1,377 evacuations had been conducted in the communities of Hornbrook, Hilt, Copco Lake, Iron Gate, and Klamath River Country Estates. “If you get an evacuation warning, please be ready to go,” he said.

Lopey also addressed reports of looting in the incident area, and said law enforcement is attempting to prevent those crimes. One arrest related to looting was made last night, he stated.

Phil Anzo, Siskiyou County Fire Warden, reported some injuries during the fire, including a firefighter who sustained severe burns. That firefighter is doing better than expected, he said, and may be released from the hospital sooner than initially predicted.

Anzo told the crowd that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. It can take time to find the fire’s point of origin, he explained, and it takes time to go through evidence and complete a case report. He said a report on the cause of the fire will come, “hopefully soon.”

Rich Thompson, incident meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the weather on Sunday is expected to be similar to what it was Saturday, with smoky, hazy conditions in the morning and then clearing in the afternoon after the inversion layer lifts. The clearer air will lead to increased fire activity later in the day.

CAL FIRE’s Tim Chavez stated that less wind and more favorable wind direction is expected for the time being.

Sheriff Jon Lopey said 87 personnel from the California Army National Guard are being sent to the area to assist with operations; and the California Highway Patrol is providing almost unlimited resources to help, including 20 personnel per shift to assist overtaxed law enforcement.

CAL FIRE Incident Commander Todd Derum reported that 31 residences, three non-commercial structures and 37 outbuildings had been destroyed as of Saturday evening. Nearly 2,400 firefighters were assigned to the fire, he noted.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the following areas: The communities of Hornbrook, Hilt, Colestein and Irongate Reservoir; Iron Gate Estates, east of railroad tracks to Iron Gate Reservoir, and from the California state line south to Copco Road; Klamath River Country Estates – east of Black Mountain to Desavado Road, south of Copco Road to Ager-Beswick Road; East Irongate Estates ­– Areas south of Irongate Reservoir/Copco Road, north of Ager/Beswick Road, west of Desavado Road and east of Snackenbury Creek; Copco Lake Area – Areas east of Jenny/Fall Creek, south of the Oregon State Line, north of Copco Road and west of Topsey Grade.

Evacuation warnings have been issued for the following areas: East of the Yreka Western Railroad to Iron Gate Reservoir and South to Copco/Ager and North to the CA/OR State line; Klamath River Estates, east of Black Mountain to Desavado Road, south of Copco Road to Ager-Beswick Road; Pheasant Valley area, east of Interstate 5, South of the Summit of Black Mountain, west of Ager and north of Yreka Ager Road; Airport Road area, southwest of York Road, west of Airport Road, north of Shelly Road and east of Ager Road; Bogus Creek area, south of Ager-Beswick Road, east of York Road and west of Bogus Creek.

For updates, follow CAL FIRE and CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit on both Facebook and Twitter. The time and locations of the community updates will be provided on both of those platforms.