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First major wildfire threat kept to 1 acre

So far, Del Norte escapes big burns seen around region 

A 1-acre wildfire near Ship Mountain on the Smith River National Recreation Area was quickly contained and snuffed out  by Friday morning after it was discovered Thursday morning.

The fire, located northwest of Ship Mountain Lake, was caused by lightning strikes on the crest of the ridge Monday evening and smoldered until it was discovered by the Ship Mountain Lookout Thursday morning. 

Due to the fire’s location in steep and inaccessible terrain, air tankers and helicopters using fire retardant and water drops were used to successfully “box in” the fire.  A 10-person smokejumper crew from Redding flew in on Thursday and made containment lines.  The smokejumpers camped out and monitored the fire on Thursday and Friday night and mop-up was planned to continue Saturday, with the fire expected to be 100-percent contained by Saturday afternoon.  

With very dry fuels in the area, the fire had the potential to start burning heavy timber, but firefighters were able to keep it in only light fuels.

“This was a great effort to be able to keep the fire with such great potential to spread to such a small size,” Division Chief Michael Frederick said. “The helitack crews and smokejumpers did a great job on this one.”

Food for the smokejumpers and a portable water tank were brought in by helicopter, and the crew and equipment will also be flown out by helicopter.

“There was wonderful assistance by the Gasquet Ranger Station staff,” said Acting Forest Fire Chief Dave Bostic. “Everyone pitched in and helped.” 

While major wildfires have cost millions and burned tens of thousands of acres on the other side of the Siskiyou Crest in the Klamath River watershed, the Smith River watershed and most of Del Norte has remained unscathed from wildfires so far this year. 


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