Scott Valley, Siskiyou, Yreka

Column from Rachel Smith, Forest Supervisor, Klamath National Forest

Rachel Smith, Forest Supervisor, Klamath National Forest

Hello from Yreka –

Like you I’ve been grateful for the precipitation over the last few days, which has aided our brave first responders’ efforts to protect the communities of Scott Bar, Fort Jones, Yreka and elsewhere. Yesterday we got a little too much of a good thing with a torrential downpour, which triggered flash flood alerts from the National Weather Service around Siskiyou County. I’ve received early notification that we’ve experienced some mudflows on and adjacent to the fire resulting in trees or debris across the road. Last night, a damaged bridge resulted in one of our brave firefighters needing to be transported to Fairchild. Luckily, he was treated and released late last night and is safely back in a hotel to rest up.

The rain was helpful in continuing to cool down parts of the McKinney Fire and I’m not seeing the intense heat on the eastern and northeastern flanks of the fire that I’d been concerned about. That said, this continues to be a fire with substantial potential. It is burning in an area that hasn’t seen significant recorded fire activity in some time. I’m grateful to continue to work collectively with CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit in Unified Command to continue to tackle this incident.

Yesterday a Type 1 team (Nickie Johnny’s California Interagency Incident Management Team 2, which includes a lot of local north state fire personnel) assumed responsibility for the McKinney fire, which we continue to work in Unified Command with CAL FIRE. We also continue to get help from all over the West – yesterday I saw a dozer from the Angeles National Forest drive in to assist with line construction, and the California Office of Emergency Services has assisted us in mobilizing fire departments from throughout the west to come help us. Nickie’s team is planning a public meeting in Fort Jones tonight, and another on Friday.

This morning Todd Mack’s Team #10 assumes responsibility for the Yeti Incident (formerly China2) and the Alex Fire. They will be based out of Happy Camp and are holding a public meeting in Happy Camp tonight at 8pm.

Elsewhere around the forest, we continue to receive what the Weather Service has been describing as “Abundant” lightning. Our local fire responders have been aggressively responding to new starts and having very good success with them. One of the developing incidents I was most concerned about, the Kelsey fire, has been substantially slowed and all structures that were threatened are safe thanks to Acting Ranger Mario Gomez and the Salmon-Scott District fire staff, along with CAL FIRE.

At the same time, we are all struggling with tremendous losses. Sheriff LaRue Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the deaths of four residents in the community of Klamath River. For us in Siskiyou County, these are friends and neighbors even though we may not yet know their identity. Despite the rain last night, the threat to people and communities in our beautiful county remains grave.

When you are out and about, please be aware of firefighters and equipment, who are in and around our communities working to bring the McKinney Fire to 100% containment.


Rachel Smith, Forest Supervisor, Klamath National Forest

Comments are closed.