Seiad Valley might evacuate

Residents in the tiny Seiad Valley, Calif., community on the north bank of the Klamath River remained ready for evacuation Monday night as the Goff fire threatened their rural homes.

Siskiyou County sheriff's deputies had gone door to door to the 85 homes in the rural area in far Northern California Monday morning, and called others who were not home when the officers came knocking.

The residents were told to prepare to leave within 12 hours if the 12,500-acre fire continued to advance from the northwest in the Klamath National Forest.

But the same winds that had been driving the fire toward the hamlet in recent days backed off a bit Monday afternoon, giving homeowners and firefighters at least a temporary break.

About 350 people live in the Seiad Valley, about 20 miles east of Happy Camp along the Klamath River. The hamlet is some 20 miles as the crow flies from the southern tip of Applegate Lake.

"The winds are not as strong as yesterday," Mike Ferris, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, said late Monday afternoon.

"The fire is not as active," he added. "It continues to back down the hill. It's not growing as dramatically as it was."

However, he stressed that the fire remained unpredictable, and that the unincorporated area was not yet out of the woods.

Indeed, the evacuation notice remained in effect into the night as firefighters continued to fight the fire which remained only 15 percent contained.

"The community of Seiad Valley is still a major concern," fire spokeswoman Mary Malene said Monday evening. "The fire continues to approach Seiad Valley at this point."

Authorities were evaluating whether to give residents a six-hour notice, she said.

"We have hand crews and engines now placed along the Seiad Valley Road," she said of an area most threatened. "Structure protection is also in place as needed. And additional resources have been ordered to assist in the structure protection."

For evacuees, a shelter has been established at the Siskiyou Golden Fair Grounds, 1712 Fairlane Road, Yreka. Residents with large animals such as horses were encouraged to take them to the fair grounds well ahead of an evacuation.

Smoke from the fire continued to pour smoke into interior southwest Oregon. At times over the weekend, smoke obscured the upper reaches of both the Cascade and Siskiyou mountains bordering the Rogue Valley. Monday, smoke could be smelled throughout the valley.

Southwesterly winds Monday afternoon helped push the fire away from private property, officials said. But wind gusts of up to 20 mph sparked concern about spot fires ahead of the main fire, caused by embers carried in the wind.

There are now more than 570 firefighters deployed on the fire, Malene said. Steep, rugged terrain coupled with extremely dry conditions and snags left from a 1987 fire in the area has created a difficult challenge for the firefighters, she said.

Closures in the area include the Pacific Crest Trail from Highway 96 to Lily Pad Lake.

The fire iin the Klamath National Forest was one of three fires in the Fort Complex fires triggered by a lightning storm on Aug. 5. All told, that complex has covered nearly 13,100 acres.

Both the 977-acre Hello fire and the 403-acre Lick fire have been largely contained. They are in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

For the latest on the Goff Fire, see

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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