The Goff Fire burns near Seiad Valley, Calif. Tuesday afternoon. The Siskiyou County Sheriffís Office issued a Mandatory Evacuation Notice to 85 homes in the area. Mail Tribune / Julia Moore - Julia Moore

Seiad Valley residents urged to flee

About 300 residents of Seiad Valley, Calif., were given evacuation notices Tuesday as the 12,500-acre Goff fire crept toward the small town that sits along the Klamath River.

The evacuation warning was delivered to residents living on Seiad Creek Road and Seiad Oaks Road. Both roads are off Highway 96.

Many of those living in the area shrugged off the evacuation order and decided to remain at the properties, Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office Assistant Sheriff Jim Betts said.

"We are not forcing people to leave their homes," Betts said. "The warning was given to let them know the fire was heading toward their homes."

Betts said about half of those who were given the warning left the area to stay with friends or relatives who live nearby. "The people down here are pretty resilient," Betts said. "I think they are going to keep an eye on things, but will leave if the fire gets too close."

A Red Cross evacuation center has been established at the Siskiyou Golden Fair Grounds on Fairlane Road in Yreka.

The shelter was opened soon after the sheriff issued the evacuation order at 10:30 a.m.

By 6:30 p.m., only one person had visited the shelter. The woman remained at the shelter for a brief time before leaving, officials said.

The shelter will remain open as long as the evacuation order is active. The fairgrounds will be available to temporarily house livestock. Sheriff's employees will assist with getting animals out of the area, officials said.

The Sheriff's Office said the fire had burned toward the west side of Highway 96 and had pushed to within six hours from reaching the homes on Seiad Creek Road and Seiad Oaks Road.

The roads were closed to traffic most of day Tuesday, officials said.

Residents of Seiad Valley, a village of approximately 350 people, were treated to a dramatic scene throughout the day, as huge columns of smoke rose from the highland above the town.

Large trees were seen bursting into flame along the hillside as the fire chewed through public wildlands.

Betts said the evacuation order and the flood of firefighters into the area caused some alarm for a few residents along the affected roads.

"We had some people interfere with us trying to cut brush or drive on private roads, but we were able to bring those situations to a close without any trouble," Betts said.

Sheriff's deputies were scheduled to patrol the area throughout the day. No arrests were made by late evening, officials said.

Fire officials said the blaze is 15 percent contained. Strong wind gusts pushed the fire farther into dense wildlands Tuesday.

These winds will slow in the coming days, but temperatures will climb back into the upper 80s and conditions will remain dry, according Dave Weygand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"The news is not really that bad, but not that good," Weygand said. "We are going to stay warm and dry."

Weygand doesn't see rain in the forecast for the foreseeable future.

"It's rain that could really help slow these fires," he said.

Winds from the southwest will continue to shove smoke from the fires into the Rogue Valley, Weygand said.

More than 570 firefighters are deployed on the fire, which continues to burn in steep, rugged terrain.

Areas of the Pacific Crest Trail from Highway 96 to Lily Pad Lake remain closed.

The fire was sparked by lightning on Aug. 5. The Goff fire, which burns in the Klamath National Forest, is one of the three large fires in the Fort Complex. 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 additional information. call the Siskiyou County Sheriff Office at 530-841-2900, the Goff Fire Information Center at 530-493-1514, or see Select Fort Complex then select the "Closures" tab or "News" tab.

The Sheriff's Office also will have current information and evacuation plans available via the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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