Special notes: The MANDATORY EVACUATION for Tionesta remains in place. Evacuations and warnings are lifted for: Tulelake area, residents with property bordering the forest or Lava Beds, all Copic, Panhandle and Peninsula areas south of Hwy 139.
Weather: Today will be partly cloudy in the morning, with clearing skies leading to sunny, warmer, drier weather today. Light and variable winds this morning will become south-southwest at 8-12mph and gusty by the afternoon, up to 17mph. Maximum temperatures should be 88-93F, with humidity at 15-20%. As the week continues, conditions will become very hot, dry, breezy and unstable, with possible red flag conditions.
Current Situation: As predicted, yesterday’s weather included thunderstorms and erratic outflow winds. These conditions created extreme fire behavior and growth on the Caldwell Fire, which has now grown to 67,789 acres. Fire was active on the west side of the fire, and firefighters conducted more burning operations near the Lava Beds National Monument Visitor Center and Headquarters, and control lines here are holding well. On the east side, the fire made a run toward Hwy 139, crossing the railroad tracks and threatening the town of Tionesta, thus prompting an evacuation. Highway 97 was closed in the fire area. Aircraft assisted with efforts until weather no longer allowed, and firefighters worked aggressively to create control measures and implemented direct line construction using heavy equipment, engines, and hand crews. They conducted tactical burning operations off road systems and performed point to point structure protection (going from structure to structure and reducing the potential for ignition by removing burnable material). Crews successfully prevented fire spread into the town. On the north side of the fire, firefighters constructed direct control line along the fire’s edge and extended the line west and south back toward the Lava Beds National Monument area. The rain helped calm the fire into the evening; the Caldwell Fire received between 0.1 and 0.25 inches of rain.
Today, on the north side, firefighters will continue creating and enforcing control line. The tule in the marshes has been susceptible to burning, so crews will work to anchor the fire at the water and limit fire spread to the north. On the east side, the threat to Tionesta is now significantly diminished. Firefighters will improve and work to complete control line in this area. Fire crews on the west side will be performing burning operations to clean up the west edge and further secure the control line. These burning operations ‘fill in’ areas of unburned fuel, thus limiting the potential for more unpredictable fire behavior. Firefighters will work along the 49 road, south to the 44N01, looping back east beneath the southwest corner of the fire.
Lightning strikes created a new fire just northeast of the Caldwell perimeter, now called the “Gillam Fire”. July Complex crews are attending to this fire and have built a significant amount of control line around its perimeter. This fire is approximately 500 acres.
Allen and Dalton Fires: The Allen and Dalton fires have line around their entire perimeters. They currently require very little staffing, and managers anticipate being able to transfer command of these fires back to the local unit later this week.
Fire managers will employ tactics that safely engage fire while prioritizing firefighter and public safety and protecting values at risk. Life safety will always remain the number one priority. COVID-19 mitigations are being taken to limit exposure risks to firefighters and the public, per CDC guidelines.
Closures and Evacuations: There are MANDATORY EVACUATIONS for Tionesta. There remains a MANDATORY EVACUATION in place for the Medicine Lake Recreation Area. The Lava Beds National Monument remains closed.