Gap Fire Devours More Wildland, Growing by Thousands of Acres

Gap fire by Will HarlingGap Fire runs up White Cloud Mountain. [All photos by Will Harling]

The wildfire burning northeast of Happy Camp which chewed through 1000’s of acres and multiple structures in a 24 hour period continued to grow, though more slowly, yesterday.  Estimates from heat mapping indicate the fire has now consumed about 8820 acres.

Gap fire by Will Harling

Yesterday, according to the US Forest Service the “strong smoke layer” moderated the fire somewhat. Highway 96, they say, “is now open with controlled, piloted traffic through the fire area.”

However, Will Harling, Director of the Mid Klamath Watershed Council, is still very concerned. He wrote,

The Gap Fire made a big run up (aptly named) White Cloud Mountain between Middle Creek and the main stem of Horse Creek today….This fire is making significant runs every afternoon with the prevailing winds. Luckily today the wind took it north away from homes (at least homes on this side of the Siskiyou Crest)… The prevailing afternoon wind direction will make the difference in the coming days. This fire could come into Seiad, into Oregon, up the east side of the Scott, wherever the winds take it. Pray for rain and cool weather and inversion! And for all the families on Horse Creek whose homes were lost or are in danger. And for the firefighters on the frontlines. There’s a lot of room for this fire to run.

heat map from Cal Fire Google Earth of Gap Fire

Screen capture of the heat map from the Gap Fire made by Cal Fire superimposed on Google Earth. 

In addition to the run up White Cloud Mountain, according to the Forest Service, “activity increased late yesterday evening as the fire burned north out of Maple Gulch. Crews continued to construct both direct and indirect handline across most portions of the fire, and structure defense remained in place overnight in the community of Horse Creek.”

Gap fire August 30

The Gap FIre as created from heat imagery at 11:04 p.m. August 29. Click to get a large pdf file.

Will Harling argues that suppression of wildfires after they start is not the best strategy. He wrote,

…[F]or the record, logging wouldn’t have kept this fire from happening. Only not suppressing wildfires for the past century would have. But now we must deal with this issue through a mix of strategies from prescribed fire, to manual and mechanical thinning where appropriate. Perhaps the biggest step is for our communities and fire management agencies coming to terms with the size and scope of this problem. We need more resources allocated for fire prevention, pre-fire planning, for prescribed burns, and strategic fuels reduction treatments at a scale ten times what we have currently done.

He believes that though the cost of using thinning and prescribed fire will be large “even still it will only cost a fraction of what it costs to battle these blazes in the worst conditions, and that’s not even counting the costs of the many homes that were lost.”

Earlier story: Gap Fire North of Happy Camp Exploded Yesterday and Continued Growing Overnight

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31 comments

  • Sadly thinning, controlled burning, fire clean up has been stopped when people that think they have a better idea stop all work with litigation and law suits…..talk is cheap saying what needs to be done, by the same people that stop the work with law suits….of exactly what Mr.Harling is saying needs to be done – he is right where everyone needs to work together

  • Thank you for keeping us updated.

  • Dyerville Loop is Not Alderpoint

    Please! Use the billions ?of Cal Fire illegal black hand tax money on this sort of area, thinning, fire lines, real jobs for real people , families, indian youth, white youth, black intercity kids… bring back the C.C.C. camps etc . Not smokey the bear badges and pencils for the kids, all made in china. I looked for some [ and the three man crew that hands them out ]at the county fair. Maybe they were out of the plastic bags that they put all the junk in, and remembered their real job, and left to fight the fires… hope so. Does any one actually know how much $ CalFire has collected with this ill egal black hand tax? Anybody? Any idea? ….. Fire fighters are our heros.Stay safe and strong. Seiad is a jewel, plrease dear god protect it.

  • Marleen McDowell

    Thank you for the updates. It helps when families are so far away and we are sitting here feeling helpless. Thanks to our loving God in heaven who answers our prayers and shows mercy to us.

  • Has it been determined how this fire started? I am really hoping that it wasn’t because of arson! Praying for everyone out there.

  • Dyerville Loop is Not Alderpoint

    black hand as in the mafia, theyd burn your house down if you didnt pay your TAX. CAL FIRES IILLEGAL BLACK HAND TAX WHICH DOESNT GO FOR FIGHTING FIRES, BUT FOR ADVERTISING AND SMOOKEY THE BEAR COMIC BOOKS., AND CHINESE PENCILS FOR THE KIDS TO TEACH FIRE PREVENTION. CAL FIRE WILL TAKE YOUR LAND IF YOU DONT PAY THERE ILLEGAL BLACK TAX, WITH PENALTIES ACCRUING DAILY. NO ONE SEEMS TO EVEN GIVE A HOOT. LAND TAX, FIRE TAX, WATER TAX, THE ONLY ELEMENT LEFT TO TAX IS THE AIR, MAYBE I SHOULDNT MENTION IT. JUST TRY AND FIND OUT HOW MUCH BLACK $$$$$$$THEY HAVE COLLECTED….. THEYLL STONEWALL YOU. JUST LIKE WORKIN IT OUT WITH THE MAFIA… YOU LOOSE PEE ON. DID YOU VOTE FOR THIS BLACK TAX? …NO ONE DID… AND THEY CAN RAISE IT AS MUCH AS THEY WANT ON A WHIM.THEY MUST HAVE HIRED 3 OR HUNDRED PEOPLE JUST TO OPEN THE ENVELOPES FILLED WITH LOOT. THATS JOBS ALRIGHT. AND THE FIRES RAGE AS THEY COUNT THEIR MONEY…. CANT USE IT FOR FIGHTING FIRES….. SOMEBODY GIVE ME A CHEESEBURGER..

  • As someone who knows the Low Gap area between Seiad and Horse Creek intimately there is no doubt in my mind that a generation of commercial and non-commercial thinning with absolutely zero slash processing has left the area a tinderbox waiting for a spark. A walk through any of the logging units will reveal slash piles as high as thirty feet that are decades old, and not just a few either. I don’t know why and when the KNF decided to stop processing slash but lax oversight and incoherent policies are a major factor in the explosive growth of the Gap Fire

  • I hope everyone is ok!!be safe all.geeze that’s going fast,we have friends up there.be careful,when you gotta go,Go

  • What a disaster this is looking like. That looks like heavy timber not to be replaced for a very long time.
    Seiad Valley is where the PCT crosses the highway from the Marbles into Oregon.

  • Beautiful photos that make my blood run cold. I appreciate the wisdom in the comments by Will Harling.

    • You do realize that logging never stopped it goes on just not where the game is played .The forest is being killed by the hypocrites that created the conditions on the ground .And it’s not just fire that’s killing our forests the bark beetle is doing a wonderful job as well logging certainly could be part of the solution but it won’t be as long as there’s a black market as healthy as it is here the game will continue . Heroin comes next after weed some can’t live in reality .

      • Heroin usually comes after someone got hooked on prescription meds from their doctor…Twinkies and giggles usually follow weed👍

        • After some pothead got hooked on prescription drugs and begs there doctor to give them more .We all know medical marijuana is largely a fraud and if it becomes legal because people are sick and tired of the Bull then those addicted to greed and their addictions will turn to Heroin it’s a cycle that won’t break with the marijuana con alone.

  • Prescribed burning and thinning is the only choice at this point. Years of fire suppression and mismanagement have directly led to this situation.we need jobs and someone needs step up for the cash. Government, local, private it doesn’t really matter. Its going to have an effect, either way. Forests have been mismanaged for quite awhile and it will continue and get much worse if we don’t start paying people to manage are mistakes. Look up Mike Yost for forestry management practices and you might learn some things. The main key to all this is, manage your property properly. some examples could be wood chipping around structures and fireline on your ridges and around your 3 acre conversion. No trees even for shade within a 100 feet Of a structure Remember if you didn’t get a conversion your home or cabin is not legal on timber designated land. Have Water tanks on hand. California will help pay for 15,000 gallons of water and a tank to be stored in remote locations for help with fire suppression.

  • Wood chips slow fires well. Not giant piles of it, but thin ground cover almost mulch style. It’s much better than flash fuels like grass and light brush. It has less oxygen and holds to the ground.

  • Wow. Let’s just get this thing out.

  • Has anyone cruised the west coast on google earth lately? The logging on private land is out of controll. Our forsst are almost gone. These fires need to be left alone after they burn and no salvage logging it’s like taping a burn victim. We need to learn to extract lumber from the forest without destroying the ecosystem and the forest itself. these fires in the summer need to be suppressed to save what we have left and practice way more prescribeded burning through the cool seasons. It’s a sad situation out there. More initial attack efforts would be nice. Once something gets to ten acres this time of year it gets real hard to catch. The forest is disapering fast. Can we save it?

  • NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!

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  • I hope the firefighters remain safe, and the effected people have resources for recovery from this fire. One came close to us once, and that was bad enough. These people need our support.

  • Several witnesses

    Why were the helicopters on the grade fire, just hovering low next to ground and fanning the flames next to houses.

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