Fire destroys homes in Hornbrook, CAL FIRE confirms one fatality

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald
A screen shot from a video taken Thursday evening, July 5, 2018, by Jaime Risner while she was helping Siskiyou County Animal Control with rescuing large animals during the Klamathon Fire in northern Siskiyou County.

Siskiyou County Animal Control volunteer Matt Rokes said those helping with the rescue of large animals Thursday night thought they might die in the effort.

CAL FIRE reported Friday morning that the fire had grown to more than 8,000 acres and one civilian fatality had been confirmed. Identity of the deceased was pending further 

The California Highway Patrol reported on its incident site that two firefighters had been injured.

A Hornbrook resident estimated Friday morning that more than 20 homes and other large structures have been destroyed in the town, including the Grange Hall.

Governor Brown declared a state of emergency in Siskiyou County Thursday night, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency states in a press release that it has authorized the use of federal funds to assist the State of California to combat the fire.

Red Cross says its volunteers are providing food, shelter, health services, mental health services and casework at the evacuation center at Jackson Street School in Yreka.

Many large animals needing shelter have been transported to the Siskiyou County fairgrounds in Yreka.

The Klamathon Fire started Thursday afternoon, July 5, and quickly spread. Interstate 5 between Yreka and Ashland, Ore., was closed during the night but reopened Friday morning.

Matt Rokes said eight volunteers are helping Siskiyou County Animal Control in getting large animals to the fairgrounds, and others are also bringing animals there. He called it “a massive community effort.”

Rokes said some of the many horses at R Ranch were taken to the shelter, while others were safely sheltered in place.

Kelly Bear, a Hornbrook resident and principal of Hornbrook Elementary School, said a “big old barn” on her property burned down, and she counted 21 homes and other large structures destroyed in the town, including the Grange Hall.

She said the school building made it through, but looters broke in during the night, and she was up at 3 a.m. Friday to deal with that.

FEMA states in its press release that it authorized the use of federal funds Thursday night after “the State of California submitted a request for a Fire Management Assistance Declaration for the Klamathon Fire. At the time of the request, the fire was threatening 425 homes in and around the community of Hornbrook and Hilt.”

The fire was also threatening other buildings, Interstate 5, BNSF Railroad, infrastructure, utilities and watershed, according to FEMA.

The FEMA Regional Administrator determined the Klamathon Fire threatened such destruction as would constitute a major disaster, according to the release.

According to FEMA, Fire Management Assistance Grants provide federal funding for up to 75 percent of eligible firefighting costs. The Disaster Relief Fund provides funding for FMAGs through FEMA to assist in fighting fires that threaten to cause major disasters. Eligible costs covered by FMAGs can include expenses for field camps, equipment use, materials, supplies and mobilization, and demobilization activities attributed to fighting the fire.