Firefighters Make Progress Extinguishing Two Major California Wildfires
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Fire officials in California are blaming the state’s largest wildfire on an improperly installed electronic livestock fence. The County Fire, which began on June 30, has burned 90,000 acres in Yolo and Napa counties.
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The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Cal Fire, said Wednesday that the fire is about 89% contained. All evacuation orders have been lifted.
Klamathon Fire Has Claimed One Life and Caused Significant Damage
Favorable weather conditions helped firefighters battle the deadly Klamathon Fire along the California-Oregon border. The fire has claimed one life and injured three civilians.
Cal Fire said the fire has scorched 36,500 acres and destroyed more than 80 structures. Approximately 315 other structures are at risk.
“Minimal fire behavior was observed [Wednesday] with minimal fire activity anticipated for tonight. The south, west and east flank lines were completed and are holding within the current containment lines,” the state fire information service added.
Almost 2,300 firefighters, 28 helicopters and 22 water tenders have fought the Klamathon Fire, which started July 5 in Siskiyou County. “Numerous firefighting air tankers from throughout both States are flying fire suppression missions as conditions allow,” Cal Fire reported.
Some Evacuations Lifted, Others Still in Effect
All evacuations levels west of Interstate 5 have been lifted. However, evacuation warnings remain in effect for the Copco Lake area and areas east of Jenny and Fall Creek, south of the Oregon state line.
In Oregon’s Jackson County, the evacuation order was reduced to Level 2 (yellow), or “Be Set” to evacuate. The order covers areas east of Interstate 5, including Bureau of Land Management lands and private properties west of the Jackson-Klamath county line.
The evacuation level for other areas in the county was lowered to Level 1 (green), which means “Be Ready.”
More Fires in California So Far This Year than in 2017
There have been nearly 3,000 fires in California since the start of the year, burning at least 231,000 acres, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. “Statistically, we’re ahead of last year,” Cal Fire deputy chief Scott McLean told the newspaper. “Fire behavior this year is more aggressive earlier in the year,” he added.
McLean recalled that Governor Jerry Brown declared an end to the drought after heavy precipitation two years ago helped fill reservoirs. "Folks believe the rains came and took care of the problem," McLean said. But, in actuality, the rains only exacerbated the fire problem by promoting plant growth.
“Our grass growth has been very significant in recent years and that has added fuel to these fires,” he explained. “It just takes a spark. We need several years of significant winters to get us back to the place we were before."