Firefighters gain ground against fire near Happy Camp

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. — Firefighters have made progress against the Elk Complex of fires threatening this Northern California town, extending fire lines and preventing growth of the fire.

The estimated size of the complex of eight active fires remained at 8,327 acres, Friday, the same as reported Thursday. The fire is considered 18 percent contained, up from 15 percent Thursday, said Brian Haugen, incident information officer with the Klamath National Forest.

The town is still considered threatened and officials are planning in case an evacuation is needed, but confidence in the fire line is growing, Haugen said.

"The vibe I'm getting from down there is more positive," he said.

Officials said 1,248 people were working on the fire Friday, and they expect to have it under control by July 29.

Two small fires in the complex were completely contained earlier this week — the 38-acre Clear fire and the 31-acre Tom Martin fire.

The building of hand and dozer lines around the Little Grider fire, which burned to within a half-mile of town, continues. Back fires to consume fuel near the fire lines could start today or Saturday, depending on weather conditions, Haugen said.

Three fires burning between Elk Creek and the Klamath River — the 2,026-acre Titus, 909-acre Wingate and 2,779-acre King Creek 2 fires — are expected to merge into one, Haugen said. This area is very steep, and crews are trying to use roads to access and control the fires.

The 1,166-acre Elk fire near the Marble Mountain Wilderness and the 80-acre Hummingbird fire inside the wilderness, are being monitored, but not actively fought because they are so isolated, he said.

Separately, both fires in the nearby China-Back Complex are 100 percent contained. The China fire, near China Peak along Highway 96 about 12 miles west of Yreka, Calif., was contained at 2,906 acres. The Back fire, about 25 miles southwest of Yreka, was contained Tuesday. Crews are monitoring the Back fire and continuing mop-up duties such as checking for hot spots and burning snags in the China fire area.

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