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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: 191405

Reported Deaths: 2530
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah37970584
Washington25360229
Marion21814306
Clackamas17186209
Lane12838145
Jackson10733135
Deschutes870374
Umatilla814084
Linn482867
Yamhill442275
Klamath433061
Polk371052
Malheur350461
Josephine330868
Douglas322570
Benton303919
Jefferson217034
Coos204933
Columbia171526
Union144423
Lincoln137120
Wasco137028
Hood River118130
Morrow110115
Crook107320
Clatsop9728
Baker94614
Curry6459
Tillamook6403
Grant5065
Lake4447
Harney3388
Wallowa1825
Gilliam621
Sherman581
Wheeler281
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3758137

Reported Deaths: 62314
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles123565124022
Riverside2990644587
San Bernardino2965964707
San Diego2779493725
Orange2707445008
Santa Clara1189012085
Kern1090311373
Sacramento1042081672
Fresno1016761684
Alameda876331545
Ventura808421011
San Joaquin730091391
Contra Costa68582803
Stanislaus619161055
Tulare49554839
Monterey43563382
San Mateo41871568
San Francisco36642543
Santa Barbara34317456
Solano32752249
Merced31743458
Sonoma29984318
Imperial28373721
Kings22971246
Placer22550290
San Luis Obispo21282260
Madera16442242
Santa Cruz16188206
Marin14037228
Yolo13894209
Shasta12071226
Butte11962199
El Dorado10111113
Napa985381
Sutter9413111
Yuba622146
San Benito604863
Lassen569824
Tehama556362
Nevada471675
Tuolumne412364
Mendocino406149
Humboldt393939
Amador365247
Lake347043
Glenn238225
Colusa223016
Siskiyou218123
Calaveras212153
Inyo142638
Del Norte13678
Mono12804
Plumas7066
Modoc4954
Mariposa4457
Trinity3995
Sierra1120
Alpine880
Unassigned390
Medford
Clear
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Hi: 76° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 77°
Brookings
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Crater Lake
Partly Cloudy
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Grants Pass
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78° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 77°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
67° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 67°
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