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Wind-driven Siskiyou County fires continue to spur evacuation orders and warnings

Flames from the Antelope Fire are reflected on the surface of Duck Lake near the southwestern edge of the fire (Inciweb)

Still the largest active fire in Siskiyou County, the Antelope Fire continues to spread south and east of the Tennant community northeast of Mount Shasta.

Posted: Aug 18, 2021 1:02 PM
Updated: Aug 18, 2021 1:08 PM

TENNANT, Calif. — Firefighters in Siskiyou County continue to battle multiple active wildfires sparked by thunderstorms more than two weeks ago, sustained by high winds and dry vegetation even as temperatures drop to more reasonable levels.

At 59,127 acres and 27 percent containment, the Antelope Fire around the remote community of Tennant remains the largest fire in Siskiyou County — dwarfing the nearby Lava and Tennant fires, now dormant, that broke out in late-July.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office expanded evacuation warnings around the Antelope Fire, stretching southwest to the slopes of Mount Shasta and to the south and east bordering Highway 89 and Old Camp Two Road. Communities like Tennant and Bray remain in an island of evacuation warnings, surrounded by mandatory evacuation areas as the fire continues to burn east and southwest.

Weather conditions continue to be an issue for fire crews, who find the problem of smoke quickly replaced by the increased fire activity of high winds.

"While the winds pushed smoke out of the area for the first time in weeks, these conditions also contributed to increased fire behavior on the east, south, and west sides of the fire," fire officials said.

Crews are now working to prepare several forest roads as potential containment lines along the southern edge of the fire if direct suppression fails.

In the southeastern area of Siskiyou County, fire crews are still battling the River Complex fires, covering a combined 48,214 acres with containment at just 10 percent. The issue here is the same as on the Antelope Fire — dry conditions and strong breezes whipping the fires into new activity, even as the smoke is carried away.

Northeast of the River Complex, the McCash Fire burning on the border of the Klamath and Six Rivers national forests is relatively far from civilization, but for the first time on Wednesday caused evacuations. The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office issued an evacuation order for areas south and west of the fire along Highway 96, covering Dillon Creek Campground to Ti Bar Road, Marble Mountain Ranch and Camp Three Campground.

"Firefighters saw an increase in fire behavior starting this afternoon due to strong winds across the fire area," officials said. "The fire has spotted across the contingency line to the west in multiple places. Crews have moved west of the dozer contingency line due to safety concerns and are implementing additional protection measures ahead of the advancing fire."

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