Latest News, Siskiyou

 Lightning response and Happy Camp Complex ~ Forest Sup note Aug 20, 2023

Last night we received another round of lightning with more than 200 strikes on the forest and over 1500 across northern California. This comes on the heels of the persistent lightning we’ve received over the last five days. The storm brought unexpectedly abundant rain in some places, prompting the closure of Walker Bridge and resulting in a number of debris flows crossing Highway 96 and impacting the Klamath River. Overnight, Highway 96 was closed by mudslides sporadically. Thanks to the hard work of county, state, and federal emergency responders, access was restored by this morning. This evening at 1730 CalTrans shut down Highway 96 after new mudslides compromised the roadway. Happy Camp District Ranger Roberto Beltran drove Grayback this afternoon and confirmed it remains safely accessible. Please, if you need to be out on the roads in this area, check the Office of Emergency Services before you leave.

We learned this week that Ken Oliver perished in the first desperate hours of the Head Fire. Oliver was a life-long Siskiyou County resident. His wife Diane survived the fire with significant burns on her body. Klamath National Forest fire personnel located her and got her care. I know everyone on the Klamath National Forest joins me in sending our deepest condolences to Diane and her family. 

This week has felt eerily reminiscent of the first week of the 2022 McKinney Fire for me, with smoke in the skies as Klamath National Forest and CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit responders worked elbow to elbow with emergency responders from all over our state as residents were evacuated from the path of the Head Fire. 

Despite these challenges, forest employees and Team 5, along with CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit have made considerable progress finding and tackling the literal dozens of fires burning across our county. The Malone Fire has been fully lined and is being monitored. We’ve contained the Devil’s Fire (2.5 acres near Seiad Low Gap), Grizzly Fire (1.5 ac on Grizzly Peak near Bingham Lake), Shadow fire (2 ac in Marble Mountain Wilderness). We’ve controlled the Doe (5 ac near Doe Peak) and Boulder Fire (.1 ac), and put out the Brown Fire (.1 ac), Dutch Fire (.1 ac), Intersection (.1 ac), and Henry (.1 ac near Henry Gulch). That said, last night’s storm gave us more smoke to chase, and we are actively working on the remaining fires burning across the Klamath National Forest. 

We still have a lot of work to do, and I’m glad to be working side by side with Chief Lawes of CAL FIRE Siskiyou Unit in Unified Command of the Happy Camp Complex. We both have a lot of trust and respect for Incident Commander Dustan Mueller and his team. 

I have to put in a final word of gratitude to each of you. Siskiyou County residents are strong, experienced, and have been showing up in large numbers to help neighbors with evacuations and staff evacuation centers, continuing to demonstrate the connection they have to Siskiyou County, the land, and all its residents.  

Forest Service ShieldRachel Smith 
Forest Supervisor Forest Service

Klamath National Forest and Butte Valley National Grassland
[email protected]
1711 S. Main St. Yreka CA 96097 
Caring for the land and serving people

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