Happy Camp's not free of fire danger yet

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

Rain on Tuesday and Wednesday held down the fire and dissipated smoke, but skies likely will get smoky again today as fire activity picks up, fire information officer Scott Swanson said.

He said 1,122 people are working on the fire and the protection of Happy Camp remains their top priority. Crews will work to enhance fire lines and build new lines with dozers and hand tools as well as plan for back fires to remove fuel. The fire is 15 percent contained and should be corralled by July 29, officials estimate.

The Little Grider fire, at 1,298 acres this 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 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.

Swanson said that so far fire suppression efforts on the 32 fires of the Elk Complex have cost $4.3 million.

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.

— Anita Burke

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