Man who died in Klamathon Fire identified, focus shifting to recovery

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
With the Klamathon Fire nearing full containment, CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit personnel are shown helping residents in Hornbook sift through what's left of destroyed structures and recover items. As stated on the post, “Repair and recovery efforts continue long after the fire flames are suppressed, helping to rebuild the community and environment.” Photo from CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit Facebook page

As firefighters continued to gain control of the Klamathon Fire this week, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office released the identity of the one person confirmed to have died in the wildfire that started July 5 in the Hornbrook area.

The decedent was identified in a press release as John Karl Bermel, 72, of Hornbrook.

An autopsy found that Mr. Bermel’s injuries were consistent with a fire-related death. A report on the cause and manner of death will be made after toxicology tests return from the lab, according to the release.

The Sheriff’s Office reported that his body was found by one of its deputies on July 6 at about 5:30 p.m. “near a heavily fire-damaged residence” in Hornbrook.

Sheriff Jon Lopey extended “condolences, thoughts, and prayers to the victim, his family, and friends” on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office. He said the case “is still under investigation and anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the SCSO’s 24-hour Dispatch Center at (530) 841-2900.”

As of Saturday, July 14, no structures are threatened on the Klamathon Fire and no additional fire spread is anticipated, according to CAL FIRE’s incident update.

Full containment of the wildfire that started in the early afternoon on July 5 is expected on Sunday, July 15.

The fire was 90 percent contained as of Saturday after burning 37,900 acres in far northern California and southern Oregon.

All evacuations have been lifted, and the number of personnel working the fire had dropped to 1,642.

A chance of thunderstorms “could bring unpredictable and erratic winds over the fire area with the possibility of some precipitation,” according to Saturday’s update. “Demobilization of excess resources will take place. Fire suppression repair efforts will continue.”

Eighty-two structures were destroyed during the Klamathon Fire and 12 were damaged. Three firefighters were injured.

CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit, according to a post Saturday on its Facebook page, is helping residents in Hornbook sift through what’s left of destroyed structures and recover items. The post states, “Repair and recovery efforts continue long after the fire flames are suppressed, helping to rebuild the community and environment.”

Another post shows CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit helping Hornbrook residents deliver and install an AC unit to stay cool with the higher temperatures throughout the county.

Cooperating agencies during the fire are listed as: California Department of Transportation, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol, California Governor's Office of Emergency Services, Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Police, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, United States Forest Service Klamath National Forest, United States Forest Service Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, US Bureau of Land Management Redding District, US Bureau of Land Management Medford District, Red Cross, National Weather Service, California Conservation Corps., CA National Guard, Klamath County Sheriff’s Office.

The Klamathon Fire incident website is: