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FireWatch: Antelope Fire makes a run for Lava Beds National Monument

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TULELAKE, Calif. — The Antelope Fire in eastern Siskiyou County, once largely contained, is now a completely different animal. On Thursday it surged north and east, into the Lava Beds National Monument — growing to roughly 143,512 acres with containment still estimated at 77 percent.

The latest map of the fire is telling. The Antelope Fire started on August 1 after thunderstorms moved through the area. The original body of the fire, centered around the community of Tennant, has been buttoned up for weeks — just one piece, on the far eastern side of the original fire, escaped containment lines earlier this week.

That breach has since become the origin of what is practically a brand new fire, running north along the western edge of Lava Beds National Monument.

"The fire has split into two fingers, around the Callahan Lava Flow, and is moving northeast into Lava Beds National Monument and also north toward Poverty Flat," fire officials said.

Fire officials say that the Antelope Fire pushed hard up Forest Road 15 on Thursday. It entered Lava Beds through areas that were unburned by the 2020 Caldwell Fire, establishing on both sides of Forest Road 49 and inside the park boundary.

The firefight is not entirely without good news. Officials said that containment line above Medicine Lake held overnight, and rains during the early hours of Friday morning helped to suppress some areas of the fire.

"While this mitigated fire activity, many of the critically dry fuels (especially in the sage/juniper fuel type) continued to burn actively," officials noted.

On Friday, crews plan to work on protecting structures north of the Three Sisters area, with firefighters assessing and prepping buildings in case the fire reaches them. Other crews may capitalize on the improved weather conditions to more directly attack the fire's edge.

"They will continue to search out and extinguish any heat remaining along the line above Medicine Lake, and will start to clear and grade roads into the interior of the fire on the west/southwestern edges," officials continued.

The Antelope Fire's rapid spread within the last several days has provoked a new flurry of evacuation orders and warning. Medicine Lake and areas north through the flats to the Oregon border are under an evacuation order, while areas south and east of Dorris are under an evacuation warning. For an interactive map of evacuation orders and warnings in Siskiyou County, click here.