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They're winning the fight on the California side, but still struggling in Oregon

By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

Firefighters continue to gain control of the Sour-Biscuit Zone 2 Fire near the Low Divide and Gasquet areas.

Crews now have the fire 28 percent contained and held growth of the fire to 55 acres in the last 24 hours. The total acreage now burning on the California side Zone 2 fire is 21,800.

Because of the remote location of the fire and the time it takes to travel from headquarters at Del Norte High School to the front lines, crews are now staying overnight in camps near the fire.

Firefighters are now hand-digging trenches around the fire on the east and west borders to prevent flames from spreading.

On the southern edge of the fire, just five miles above Gasquet and nine miles northeast of Hiouchi, crews were prevented from creating a fire block line.

The difficulty of accessing the front lines of the blaze there and a lack of escape routes made sending fire crews to that area too dangerous, according to a news release by the U.S. Forest Service.

No structures have burned in the fire on the California side.

The Shelley Creek Fire near Patrick Creek Lodge just above Highway 199 is still 100 percent contained. Crews continue to monitor and mop-up that fire.

Residents living near both fires who were evacuated seven days ago, were allowed to return to their homes yesterday afternoon, but remain on a one-hour evacuation notice warning.

Costs of the Sour-Biscuit Zone 2 Fire are estimated at $1.3 million so far. The Shelley Creek Fire has cost about $2.5 million to fight, so far.

Weather is expected to continue to help fight the blaze. A cool, moist air mass is moving inland from the coast with temperatures in the mid 70's with 40 percent humidity.

The Sour-Biscuit fire burning in Del Norte County's Smith River National Recreation Area is connected with the Sour-Biscuit Zone 1 Fire burning just over the Oregon border.

Crews working to fight the Oregon section of the fire which has grown almost 1,000 acres in the past two days, are now conducting burn-out operations along the state line.

The Zone 1 fire is now 19,228 acres.

Between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today, fire crews are using explosives to create a fire line just west of O'Brien and south and Rough and Ready Creek.

The Florence Fire, burning five miles west of Selma, Ore. and threatening Cave Junction and Kerby continues to grow larger.

Burning less than two miles from the Sour-Biscuit Fire complex, the Florence Fire grew nearly 10,000 acres in the past 24 hours. It is now burning a total of 198,200 acres.

Four residences and eight outbuildings have burned in that blaze.

Information about how the fire is threatening the transmission lines which bring all of Del Norte County's electricity through the Illinois Valley from Grants Pass is unavailable today.

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