UPDATE: Containment grows on Lime Fire

The fire prompted evacuation warnings on September 7 as it spread toward homes in the Ash Creek and Gottsville area.

Posted: Sep 9, 2019 11:18 AM
Updated: Sep 15, 2019 10:46 AM

YREKA, Calif. — The Lime Fire is now 84 percent contained. 

It has not grown. It is still 1,872 acres. Be prepared for unexpected road closures on Highway 96 until the fire is contained.

UPDATE: The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has lifted all evacuation warnings around the Lime Fire as firefighters continue to make progress in containing the wildfire.

According to the latest estimates from fire officials, the Lime Fire covers 1,872 acres and is 45 percent contained. It is located south of Cottonwood Peak, primarily within the Klamath National Forest.

During the days of cooler temperatures and higher humidity this week, firefighters took advantage of the favorable conditions to build firelines and mop up the fire's perimeter as best they could. Now those conditions are beginning to change for the worse.

"Today’s weather forecast is a continuation of a warming and drying trend," fire officials said. "Maximum temperatures are forecast between 82 and 90 degrees. Minimum humidity on the highest elevations of the fire are expected to be 15 to 25 percent. Forecasted wind speeds are 5 to 10 mph with gusts to 15 mph."

The Lime Fire was one of several sizable burns sparked by lightning strikes over last weekend. The Kidder 2 Fire south of Fort Jones stands at 165 acres, with containment at 43 percent.

Several trail closure orders remain in effect for the Klamath National Forest due to these two fires.

(9/13/19 at 1:53 p.m.)

UPDATE: Fire officials said the Lime Fire burning in the Klamath National Forest grew to 1,911 acres but so did containment. Crews added the weather has been cooperative over the last few days, allowing firefighters to get more access into the fire. Containment grew to 20 percent.

(Update 9/11/19, at 11:30am)

UPDATE: By Monday evening, fire officials issued an update indicating that the Lime Fire in the Klamath National Forest had seen several hundred acres of growth over the day, topping out at roughly 1,400 acres.

Some 40 people remained under evacuation warnings, but officials said that none had been ordered to leave.

Aircraft had dropped more than 100,00 gallons of retardant on the fire by late Monday afternoon — with seven helicopters, three retardant planes, and one air attack plane now working the fire. There were also 491 firefighters (16 hand crews), 18 engines, and 13 dozers.

Compared to reports from earlier Monday morning, the resource estimates from fire officials in the late afternoon represented more than double the previous number of helicopters and hand crews, plus the addition of air tankers.

"Yesterday, morning cloud cover prevented the use of retardant planes," officials said in a statement. "When skies cleared later in the afternoon, retardant planes were once again used to aid in fire suppression."

The report from fire officials acknowledged fire activity on Sunday that was visible from Yreka and other Siskiyou County communities, as a towering column of smoke rose above the fire before filtering outward.

"Similar fire behavior has been observed for the past three days and is due to burnable fuels on slopes being heated and dried by the afternoon sun and winds coming into alignment with terrain to support strong bursts of uphill fire growth," officials said. "Burnable fuels include a heavy understory grass crop that was created by robust winter rains."

Firefighters continued to struggle by steep terrain and limited ways to access the fire area. Fire official said that they were focusing on the construction of direct and indirect fireline to impede the fire's growth.

With the fire relatively close to Highway 96 through the Klamath National Forest, motorists are advised to use caution and watch for fire traffic.

"Motorists are also encouraged to be aware of potentially distracted driving along Interstate 5, as the fire is visible from several of vantage points north of Yreka," officials said.

(Updated 9/9/19 at 5 p.m.)

INITIAL REPORT: Following days of responding to scattered lightning-sparked fires, firefighter crews from the U.S. Forest Service discovered a fire in the Klamath National Forest that was beginning to spread rapidly. By Monday morning, the Lime Fire covered more than 1,100 acres.

Officials believe that the Lime Fire and nearby Collier Fire began with lightning strikes on the evening of September 4, and were detected late the next morning. The Lime Fire remained small over that night, but began to spread rapidly by Friday afternoon.

"At approximately 2:00 pm on Friday, September 6 the fire increased in intensity and size and additional resources were deployed," fire officials said.

On Saturday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation warning for people living between Ash Creek and Gottsville up to four miles north of Highway 96 through the Klamath National Forest.

Fire activity has been moderated overnight due to high humidity and lower temperatures, but firefighters have seen more intense activity in the late afternoons as winds rise and humidity is reduced.

"In the mid to late afternoons as humidity decreases and temperatures rise, fire activity has increased and smoke has been visible in neighboring communities," fire officials said.

The U.S. Forest Service said that other fires across Northern California have drawn away resources that might otherwise have been put on the Lime Fire. By Monday, there were six crews, three helicopters, and nine dozers working on containing the fire.

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