Fire at Happy Camp reaches 8,327 acres

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — The Elk Complex of lightning-caused fires had burned through 8,327 acres by Thursday, and firefighters expect to see increased fire activity as the forest dries out after this week's rain.

The 1,122 people working on the fire concentrated on reinforcing existing fire lines, building new lines with dozers and hand tools, and planning for back fires to remove fuel, fire information officer Scott Swanson said.

Protection of Happy Camp remains the top priority. Swanson said 350 residences and 200 other outbuildings are threatened by the encroaching flames.

A community meeting about the fire suppression efforts, planned backfires, forest closures and potential evacuation plans is set for 7 p.m. tonight at the Happy Camp Grange.

The Little Grider fire, at 1,298 acres Thursday morning, has burned to within a half-mile of town, but lines on the southeast edge of the fire are holding. The blaze is burning low and slow, with most growth on the north and west edges away from town, Swanson said.

The 2,026-acre Titus, 909-acre Wingate and 2,779-acre King Creek 2 fires are burning about three miles south of town and are held between Elk Creek and the Klamath River, he said. This area is very steep, and crews are trying to use existing roads to access and control the fires.

Crews continue to monitor the 1,166-acre Elk fire near the Marble Mountain Wilderness and the 80-acre Hummingbird fire inside the wilderness, but access is very difficult.

Rain on Tuesday and Wednesday held down the fire and dissipated smoke, but skies likely will fill with smoke again as fire activity picks up, Swanson said. As drying occurs, back fires will be set inside fire lines to consume remaining fuel.

As of Thursday morning, fire suppression efforts on the 32 fires of the Elk Complex have cost $4.3 million. The fire is 15 percent contained and should be corralled by July 29, officials estimate.

The Forest Service has brought the China-Back fire outside Yreka nearly under control with the help of wet weather.

The China fire, near China Peak along Highway 96 about 12 miles west of Yreka, Calif., is 90 percent contained at 2,906 acres. The Back fire, about 25 miles southwest of Yreka, was contained Tuesday, but crews continue to monitor it.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail

Share This Story