Fire as a Lifestyle–Butler Creek Resident Speaks Out–Also, Butler Fire Now at almost 7500 Acres

 

Photo of the Butler Fire coming down behind a residence taken by Ben Beaver.

 

“Traditionally fires go out when it rains,” explained Creek Hanauer a resident near the Butler Fire. “In this area, every big fire was finally put out when it rains.”  He pointed out that this fire started earlier than the traditional fire season. “It is two weeks into the fire and we’re scared as hell… .”  He is worried that the fires could burn for months. “We are not putting this out until November” when the rains come.

He and his neighbors have continued clearing around their buildings. They believe the fire will likely get to their homes. “[Fire crews] are going to trying to stop it on the downriver side of Forks of Salmon… . They are going to keep it from going into Humboldt Co.”  But, he says, flames have jumped the line several times in places where crews have tried to hold it.  “The flames are a mile from me…It jumped the line.”

Right now, he says, the concern is “The fire that is moving up the river, up towards Forks of Salmon… . Probably half dozen houses have crews around them.  [The fire] has several drainages that it has to pass through.  It is moving a couple miles a day [and] it is moving so many directions at once.”

Hanauer says that the fire is going to change the lives of all the residents of the area. “This fire is a lifestyle.  It is going to affect every facet of our lives for years.”  He says even if homes aren’t burnt people will to face consequences into the future. “There will be landslides,” he says because vegetation will have burnt and left the soil vulnerable to the rains. The views will have been destroyed.  And there will be economic consequences. Hanauer points to the burnt waterline of Butler Flat (See yesterday’s story). “We all have extensive waterlines.” Those waterlines not only provide water but also in some cases provide hydroelectric power. There is also money being spent now to protect their homes.

The residents so far have managed to protect their homes but many of them then face other issues.  Hanauer says, “They fight, they fight, they win.  Then,as the fire psasses, it takes their waterline.”

Still, he says, they aren’t defeated. “We’ve done it before, we’ll do it again… . I was talking to a friend who was about to lose his waterline.  Last week, we would have been absolutely freaked out by this.  Now he’s calmly making arrangements to get a new one. We’re just moving on.”

Butler Fire Press Release below:

Health Advisory:

The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (NCUAQM) has extended their smoke advisory for Del Norte, Humboldt and Trinity Counties, noting that there are separate advisories for Forks of Salmon, Klamath Glen, Orleans and Weitchpec. For further information call the 24 hour Air Quality Advisory Information at 1-866-BURN-DAY or check the district’s website at www.ncuaqmd.org.

Detected: Wednesday, July 31, 10:00 p.m.

Cause: Under Investigation

Fuels: Timber and Brush

Estimated Size: 7,498

Containment: 8%

Committed Resources: Approximately 1,064

Structures Damaged or Destroyed: 0

 

Closures:

The following closures are in effect:

 

  1. Going into or being upon National Forest System lands in the area beginning at the intersection of Wooley Creek and Highway 93 (county Road 2B01), then continuing northeast along Wooley Creek to the intersection with Timothy Gulch, then continuing southeast along Timothy Gulch to the intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail, then continuing southeast along but not including the Pacific Crest Trail to the intersection with the Russian Wilderness boundary, then continuing south/southwest along the Russian Wilderness boundary to the intersection with Forest Route 39, then continuing west/northwest along but not including Forest Route 39 to the intersection with Highway 93 (county Road 2B01), then continuing northwest along Highway 93 (County Road 2B01) to the starting point, as shown on the attached map.

  2. Oak Bottom Campground, Nordheimer Campground is closed.

  3. Highway 93 (Forks of Salmon Road) is closed at the Highway 96 intersection and above the Forks of Salmon store. No access to North Fork/Sawyers Bar Road is available at this time.

  4. Forest roads 10N04 and 10N17 and roads in the fire area south of the Salmon River.

  5. The land around the Salmon River is closed 300 feet from the high watermark between the confluence of Wooley Creek and the confluence of Nordheimer Creek.

 

Summary:

The Butler Fire spread slowly overnight due to cooler, moister conditions, with most activity observed in the Nordheimer and Hammel Creek areas as the fire backed towards the Salmon River.

Firefighters will continue to try to line the western fire perimeter (from Somes Mountain to Salmon Summit) where steep terrain and limited visibility have hampered efforts over the last few days. Good progress has been made on dozer and handlines being constructed ahead of the active fire (indirect line) and those efforts will continue today, especially in the Pearch Creek area where contingency lines are being opened and reinforced. Crews will continue to assess structures in the Pearch Creek area. The backing fire in Butler Creek compromised the community water system, but no damage to structures has been observed.

Today’s predicted incoming weather front brings strong, variable winds and a chance of thunderstorms. Firefighters will be advised and pulled off the fire line if hazardous weather approaches.

Please see http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3577/# for updates and a map of the Orleans Complex.

 

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