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Klamathon Fire Damages Railroads, Threatens Communications

An easily overlooked byproduct of the Klamathon fire is the destruction or threat to lines of transit, communication and utilities that serve communities in the area and far beyond.

Posted: Jul 7, 2018 1:22 PM
Updated: Jul 7, 2018 5:01 PM

HORNBROOK, Calif. — As fire crews struggle to contain the spread of the Klamathon Fire, limiting the destruction of homes and loss of life, vital utilities and lines of communication that serve the public in both California and Oregon are already falling victim to the flames.

The Central Oregon & Pacific Railroad (CORP) operates on tracks running between Black Butte, California (just south of Weed) and Springfield, Oregon. Near the communities of Hilt and Hornbrook, those tracks run roughly parallel to I-5. The Klamathon Fire has raged through about 8-12 miles of those tracks so far, according to a CORP spokesperson.

Fortunately, there were no CORP trains scheduled to run through the area of the fire since it began, and none scheduled to run until July 9. The company has been unable to get anyone out to that area yet to assess any potential damage, but they say that all tracks and structures will be inspected before trains begin running again.

"I understand that California officials have confirmed a fatality," said the CORP spokesperson. "Until the fire is over, our primary concern is keeping people out of harm's way; the railroad can be fixed."

Meanwhile, CAL FIRE has expressed concern that Verizon cellular towers near the town of Hornbrook could be under threat. Those towers stand on Horn Peak, among the ridges northeast of the town—many of which the Klamathon Fire has scorched already.

NewsWatch 12 reached out to Verizon for comment on how this could effect cell service in the area, but have not yet received a response. A spokesperson with CAL FIRE said that fire officials have been working closely with the owners of major equipment like this, keeping them apprised of the fire's location and doing their best to keep that equipment intact.

CAL FIRE also has a radio repeater stationed just southeast of Hornbrook on Black Mountain, which has so far remained untouched, but remains under threat if the fire should spread to the south. That repeater is responsible for facilitating radio communications for fire crews in the area.

Some residents of Hornbrook have refused to evacuate, and remain in homes that were untouched by fire. However, both electrical and water services were an early casualty of the Klamathon Fire's passage. Sheriff Jon Lopey said on Friday that crews are working to restore both services to the area.

At least one Hornbrook resident, however, has expressed frustration with the efforts of the local water utility company, which they say has not accepted offers from local volunteers willing to help restore clean water to the town.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 155315

Reported Deaths: 2208
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31853528
Washington21170212
Marion18416285
Clackamas13357175
Lane10224126
Jackson8377112
Umatilla765182
Deschutes594659
Yamhill377364
Linn358656
Malheur335058
Polk305342
Klamath278955
Douglas246354
Josephine233750
Benton233516
Jefferson195528
Coos148219
Union128419
Columbia126121
Wasco122126
Lincoln113120
Hood River106829
Morrow104714
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6567
Curry4266
Tillamook4142
Lake3756
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3563578

Reported Deaths: 51953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119089421328
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2862912816
Orange2610223904
San Diego2596413271
Santa Clara1104221777
Kern102627826
Fresno952021443
Sacramento931801472
Alameda804961241
Ventura77534844
San Joaquin665691101
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus56024946
Tulare47784758
Monterey42138328
San Mateo38922515
San Francisco34213410
Santa Barbara31763409
Solano30024164
Merced28915397
Sonoma28063298
Imperial26888591
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15436209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12816185
Shasta10972174
Butte10941160
El Dorado9095100
Napa901469
Sutter884597
San Benito575959
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Nevada395274
Tuolumne394659
Mendocino379643
Amador345741
Humboldt318033
Lake315341
Glenn222023
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128737
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
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