Blaze containment still more than a week away

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — Crews continue to build fire lines and set backfires to rein in the Elk Complex of fires, but officials say the remaining lightning-sparked blazes in this section of the Klamath National Forest won’t be beat until next month.

Since the fires started more than two weeks ago, the Forest Service has estimated they would be contained by July 29. Now with $11.7 million spent on the efforts and 77 miles of fire line constructed, officials say the fires likely won’t be contained until Aug. 5.

In the 30-fire complex, 25 fires have been completely contained, but the entire complex is only considered 59 percent contained as of this morning, officials reported.

Three fires burning southwest of Happy Camp are expected to merge. The Wingate, Titus and King Creek 2 fires have consumed 6,279 acres. The Klamath River serves as a containment line on the west flank of fires and crews are building lines by hand and with dozers, as well as setting controlled backfires to consume fuel in the path of the fires.

The Elk fire near the Marble Mountain Wilderness has burned 1,144 acres and is 96 percent contained. The nearby Hummingbird fire inside the wilderness appears to have burned itself out in rugged terrain. It covers 80 acres, but surveillance flights have observed no heat in the area in the past two days, officials said.

— Anita Burke

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